In brief 3 min read
The Fair Work Commission (the FWC) has released an opinion on how to deal with monthly paid employees under the JobKeeper scheme.1
- Employees paid on a monthly basis can have those payments allocated to different JobKeeper fortnights, but only in a reasonable manner.
- It is unlikely that any method of allocation that results in a benefit to an employer will be assessed as payments allocated in a reasonable manner.
The JobKeeper scheme breaks the period from 30 March 2020 to 27 September 2020 into JobKeeper fortnights.
- The first JobKeeper fortnight was for the period 30 March to 12 April 2020.
- The second JobKeeper fortnight was for the period 13 to 26 April 2020.
For each JobKeeper fortnight, an eligible employer receives from the scheme $1,500 per eligible employee. This amount is to reimburse payments made by employers to eligible employees, which, under the legislation, must be at least $1,500 per fortnight.
In its response to COVID-19, Qantas stood down the majority of its workforce and obtained for its employees JobKeeper payments from the scheme.
Included in the cohort of stood down employees eligible for JobKeeper was Planning and Engagement Manager Mathew Mazzitelli, who was stood down from 6 April 2020. Mr Mazzitelli is a monthly paid employee and received payments from Qantas on the 15th of each month (two weeks in arrears and two weeks in advance).
The first payment he received after he was stood down was the sum of $3,000 and was for the month of April. This comprised:
- $1,881.8 for work performed on 1–3 April 2020 and a public holiday on 10 April 2020;
- $470.50 for a public holiday on 13 April 2020; and
- $647.70 as a JobKeeper 'top up'.
Mr Mazitelli considered that this was, in essence, an underpayment, as for the second JobKeeper fortnight he received $1,118.20 instead of $1,500.
Qantas disputed this, and said that it was permitted to average his earnings over the month as part of its calculations. This position was based on the JobKeeper rules that permit sums paid to monthly paid employees to be applied to fortnights in a reasonable manner. As a result, the $3,000 paid to Mr Mazitelli complied with the legislation.
The FWC issued an opinion that Mr Mazitelli's position was correct. Although the JobKeeper rules can permit the approach Qantas took, it determined that, in the circumstances, the payments were not applied to fortnights in a reasonable manner. This was primarily because Qantas obtained a benefit from the way it allocated the payments.
Mazzitelli v Qantas Airways Limited (2020) FWC 2413 8 May 2020.