Late last week, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg reiterated the importance of the “one in, all in” principle of the JobKeeper scheme, noting that an amendment to emphasise the point and make it clearer in the rules was coming.
“Once an employer decides to participate in the JobKeeper scheme and their eligible employees have agreed to be nominated by the employer, the employer must ensure that all of these eligible employees are covered by their participation in the scheme,” Mr Frydenberg said.
“This includes all eligible employees who are undertaking work for the employer or have been stood down. The employer cannot select which eligible employees will participate in the scheme.”
Speaking on Accountants Daily Live, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand tax leader Michael Croker said the key feature was causing some “tough love issues” for employers.
“Employers do not have to enrol in JobKeeper and some employers are deciding not to — they are going to close down,” Mr Croker said.
“If you do sign up for JobKeeper, however, and you’ve already retrenched or dismissed employees, you don’t have to rehire them, but you can. So, there are a lot of hard conversations happening out there in the suburbs and towns between retrenched employees saying to their old boss, ‘Why aren’t you taking me back on?’
“If you do still have employees on your books, or as an employer you want to rehire those previously retrenched employees, then yes, a one in, all in rule applies.”
Mr Croker believes accountants should be considering teaming up with employment lawyers to deal with more complex scenarios.
“We’re hearing some stories where some employers are saying we’ll only take some back, so there are some pretty tough discussions happening out there, and in some cases, disgruntled former employees are picking up the phone to Fair Work and asking what are their rights,” he said.
“As an accountant, you might have to team up with some employment lawyers to sort out some of the more difficult situations that you are coming across.”
TaxBanter senior tax trainer Robyn Jacobson previously told Accountants Daily that the “one in, all in” feature might also create some cash-flow implications for businesses.
“There will be implications as participating employers will not have a choice as to which employees they select to go into the scheme. They will be required to pay a minimum of $1,500 a fortnight upfront, and then they’ll be reimbursed by the ATO the following month,” Ms Jacobson said.
“This will have serious cash-flow implications and employers should carefully consider whether the JobKeeper scheme is the right choice for them.
“They may have a large, long-term casual workforce and they may earn less than $1,500 a fortnight, and to go into JobKeeper, they would need to top up those workers to $1,500 a fortnight and they would have to fund it in the meantime until they are reimbursed by the ATO.”
Jotham Lian is the editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.
Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.