Updated: Oct 11, 2021
After the Prime Ministers recent positive announcement regarding the extension of JobKeeper, it was time to check the details from a payroll perspective. After looking at the latest Treasury Fact Sheets, the JobKeeper Payment rate is to be reduced and paid in two steps. The fundamental rule, which is of primary importance for Employers and Payroll is; "all eligible employees who, in the four weeks before 1 March 2020, were working in the business or not-for-profit for 20 hours or more a week on average and for business participants who were actively engaged in the business for more than 20 hours per week".
The critical question for Payroll, what is the definition of "hours"?
A Pay Slip can be a mixed bag of items that produce the total amount of an employees' pay. Some of these items may, or may not be hours. For example, Piece Meal rates, paid by the Punnett, Box, Create, Kg etc. Commissions, Standby, or Travel rates are also not "hours".
Although hours are printed on some Employees Pay Slips, hours are not reported in Single Touch Payroll.
Now let's talk about hours again, does this mean hours actually worked (attendance)? What is the consideration for paid absences e.g. Annual Leave, Sick and Carer's Leave, Compassionate and Bereavement Leave, Family and Domestic Violence Leave, Jury Duty etc.? What about unpaid absences, e.g. Community Service Leave, Government Paid Parental Leave, Workers Compensation etc.?
What is the calculation to be used for Penalty rates? What does time and a half or double time equate to in "hours"?
As always, Payroll is all about the detail and as yet we have not been provided with the granular information needed to enable Employers to meet (or fully understand) the extended JobKeeper requirements.
In its simplest form, questioning just the period alone, "more than 20 hours per week", why "more than", why not just, "an average of 20 or more hours per week, calculated from 1 February to 29 February 2020 inclusive (29 days)"?
Employers will need enhanced guidance allowing them to fulfil their obligations without the fear of penalties later. The currently published documents are not detailed enough when looking at the information through a payroll lens.