A case of the rich putting their foot on the neck of the poor – and it’s not even their money. Another contravention of Federal law in Adelaide which will go unpunished. Beware kids!
Adelaide pubs, fast food and retailers are routinely abusing the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme by making unlawful demands of workers, a SA parliamentary committee has heard.
The United Workers Union says it has been contacted by thousands of workers over the last few months with complaints relating to the Federal Government’s $70 billion program.
Common problems include eligible employers not applying for the scheme, and employers applying for the scheme but only on behalf of certain favoured workers.
The union’s national director and state secretary Demi Pnevmatikos told the Legislative Council’s Budget and Finance Committee that coronavirus has exacerbated “systemic, industry-wide issues”.
Among the incidents she raised was a letter — written by Tony and Vicki Franzon, who run an Adelaide hotel chain — to employees receiving the JobKeeper payment.
The letter stipulated “we expect all employees on JobKeeper to work 25 hours per week”, and went on to advise workers who could not meet that requirement to “send a written resignation letter”.
“You will be able to reapply for work at the end of September,” the letter said.
Ms Pnevmatikos said the hotel was not entitled to make such a demand.
“They are now compelling employees to work a set number of hours, despite being employed as casuals,” she told the parliamentary committee.
“If workers are not prepared to accept this unlawful arrangement, their employer has sought their resignation.”
The JobKeeper scheme has benefited about 3.5 million Australian workers through a $1,500 fortnightly wage subsidy paid to businesses.
The Fair Work Ombudsman has said employers are not allowed to push staff to increase their hours in return for receiving the payment.
Mr Franzon said his original letter was followed by a second email inviting staff who are not able to meet the requirement to contact him to discuss alternative arrangements.
He said the 25-hour requirement was reached by dividing the $750 weekly JobKeeper payment by a $30 hourly rate, and the request was made in an effort to ensure fairness among employees.
“Why should one person do 25 hours a week … yet another person just does seven hours a week and gets the same money?” he said. “It morally isn’t right.”