Update 22 May
Health updates are becoming fewer, as economic recovery takes centre stage. This story pressed some buttons…
Casual Worker Entitlements: Workers are Happy but Businesses Could Sink
It started with a Federal Court ruling on Wednesday that Workpac should pay annual leave to a long term casual worker. The mine worker, Mr Rossatu, has been employed by Workpac for 3.5 years on a rolling roster.
Why is this surprising?
Well, casuals usually get paid an additional 25c per hour casual loading fee because they don’t get leave entitlements. The court reasoned that Mr Rossatu’s job reflected that of a permanent employee because it was ‘regular, certain, continuing, constant and predictable employment.’ And he didn’t have to pay back the casual loading fee.
While the court case had nothing to do with COVID-19, it’s caused an outcry by small and medium sized businesses struggling to get back on their feet in a coronavirus economy. The ruling will not affect all casual workers, but it will have implications for long term casual employees. And that means businesses may have to cough up backpay.
Since the cost of these payouts, estimated around $8 billion, might kill the lifeline effect of JobKeeper, the decision is likely to be appealed. Finance Minister, Mathias Cormann acknowledged that this is ‘very bad for business’. He said that Federal Government is considering whether a legal fix is needed, and will intervene on appeal. FairWork Australia has since posted that “We’re reviewing the information” and that they will update their message soon.
Boost for Roads and Community Facilities
Despite ScoMo remaining rather quiet this week, his media release today announced another $1.8 billion to stimulate construction projects through local governments. Improving bridges, tunnels, bicycle and walking paths, picnic shelters and park barbeques will increase local employment and help communities reconnect.
States Get Active on Job Creation
New South Wales has fast-forwarded school plans so that all children will be back in classrooms on Monday, relieving parents to get back to work. Pubs, clubs, cafes and restaurants can now host up to 50 customers if they have the space for it. Plus, funding has been released for construction projects – a retail centre, industrial facilities, three new schools and road projects that will create an estimated 5250 new jobs.
Victoria is helping universities to keep going, with funding, and facilitating angel networks to invest in start-up businesses. Funding for water works is creating job opportunities as well as a Building Works package that will stimulate the resources sector, and in turn support infrastructure and development.
In the Northern Territory, about 3000 people are back at work again and many have enjoyed their first pint at the pub again, as approximately 450 food and drink venues reopened, with more expected to open their doors from 5 June as the third stage of restrictions ease. Chief Minister, Michael Gunner, appointed a task force
to provide advice on economic recovery, including creating jobs, cutting red tape and attracting investment.
Tasmania will begin aggressive construction programs in the weeks to come, bringing forward projects like building houses, schools, roads, bridges and dams.
Queensland has granted additional funding for small businesses. A Rural Economic Development grant has seen 14 businesses boosted by innovative technology and the creation of more jobs as a result:
- A vegetable farm will gain a facility to slice, dice and powder second rate produce to reduce waste
- A mango farm will soon have digital technology to test fruit maturity and defects, so that no mature mango is lost in manual testing.
- A vegetable company can now use x-ray technology in fully automated cob inspection, cutting and packing processes.
Quick News Tidbits
The ATO amended the recorded number of employees on JobKeeper from 7 million-ish to only 3.5million. This reduces the predicted package cost to $70 billion rather than $130 billion. The reason? They found that some employers had used incorrect numbers on their application forms, writing the payment value rather than number of employees. This has not affected the scheme payouts.
A new national set of entry-level skills needed across Australia has now been developed and will be fast tracked by training sectors to respond to industry needs. Workers are primarily needed in the aged care and disability sector.
All types of elective surgery can now resume in public and private hospitals. Health services will make clinical decisions and select eligible patients based on urgency, PPE use and ICU capacity.
Image by Olga Guryanova from Unsplash
Today tragically marks 100 deaths from COVID-19 in Australia.
There have been 7081 cases of COVID-19 in Australia
- 6,472 people have recovered
- 9 patients are in ICU
While Australia’s coronavirus health crisis simmers down, on the global front, daily counts of new COVID-19 cases keep rising. Italy and Spain’s curves are now flattening. The UK, US and Russia are showing the first signs of new cases declining. However, in some countries, like India, Indonesia, United Arab Emirates and South Africa, case numbers are still rising significantly.
Hope Over Fear
Feeding the Hungry
Farmers Provide Food Relief
After droughts, bushfires and now coronavirus, many families have been hard hit. Due to high demand for food relief, FoodShare, an emergency food provider, has recruited about 30 farms to donate their produce to communities doing it tough, sometimes feeding up to 3000 people in a week. FoodShare anticipates that the demand will increase in September, when government supports are reduced. Aussie farmers have been generous, donating tonnes of fruit and vegetables in season.
How to Keep Feeding Elephants That Eat for 20 Hours a Day
Further afield in Nepal, with the tourism trade brought to a standstill, owners of elephants ‘employed’ in this trade were struggling to feed them. Elephant Aid International, who work closely with mahouts and farmers, facilitated a win-win plan. Firstly, the elephants got permission to enter a national park during the day, which is not usually permitted. Secondly, workers who had lost their jobs were recruited to harvest crops on farms that were otherwise going to rot, to sell to the elephant owners.
Your Tip for Today
Job searches may need a little more attention in this coronavirus economy.
Here are some tips for your next job search (from 7 News):
- Don’t be idle – be out there connecting with potential employers.
- Don’t be disheartened by the current climate. If you can show you are the best person for the job, you’re likely to get it.
- Reach out to your contacts and update people on what you’re looking for.
- Let everyone you are interacting with know what you offer and to keep you in mind if they hear a potential job comes up.
- You may need to take a job that is different from what you are looking for. Now is a good time to upskill with the government offeringcut price higher education packagesto help fill skill shortages.Or check out My Skills.gov.au.
- Give the best hours of your day to your job search but don’t let it take over your life.
- Remain visible online through your LinkedIn profile.
- Be kind to yourself – and be curious while job hunting.
What About You?
- What do you think about the latest court ruling on casual workers?
- Do you find job searches tougher right now?
- What are you most thankful for today?
I’d love to hear your stories.
Federal Finance Minister, Mathias Cormann on Casual employment – 22 May 2020
FairWork Australia on Casual Employees – 20 May 2020
ABC News – Federal Court ruling on Casual Entitlements – 21 May
ATO JobKeeper update – 22 May 2020
Prime Minister’s media release on road and community funding – 22 May 2020
The Squiz Podcast – 22 May 2020
Federal Minister for Employment on National Skill Set – 21 May
AHPPC on Elective Surgery – 22 May
John Hopkins University COVID-19 Map
Good News Network – Feeding Nepal’s Elephants – 20 May
ABC News – Farmers donate produce to FoodShare – 21 may