Casual workers will need to have at least a 12-month link with one employer to be eligible for the Federal Government’s coronavirus wage subsidy program.
Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter has ruled out expanding the $130 billion scheme, which will see eligible workers receive $1500 each fortnight.
Mr Porter said the government did not want to see a complete “carbon freeze” of the economy by expanding JobKeeper to more casual workers.
“Even with expenditure of this extraordinary size there has to be some definitions and some lines drawn,” Mr Porter said.
“We don’t want to put an economy into complete carbon freeze. There is work for casuals in some sectors, it’s growing and we have seen that.”
The ACTU has suggested casuals should get the payments if they had a reasonable expectation of ongoing work, were it not for the virus.
But Mr Porter said that definition was too broad.
He said this morning the bill would apply the definition of casual worker announced last week, requiring someone to have been “attached” to an employer for a minimum of one year.
To be eligible, a for-profit company’s turnover must have fallen by at least 30 per cent because of the pandemic.
Businesses with annual turnovers of more than $1 billion must have suffered a 50 per cent fall, while charities will only need to have suffered a 15 per cent hit.
As MPs gather in Canberra to debate the new JobKeeper legislation, the federal government insists the Fair Work Act must be changed.
Mr Porter says the act must be changed to ensure every worker who needs it can access the JobKeeper payment worth $1500 each fortnight.
“This is the only guaranteed way to make the $1500 payments flow in a lawful way to save Australian jobs. I’ve described it as a $130 billion worth of life boats going out. This is parliament’s Dunkirk moment,” he said.
Mr Porter says Labor’s suggestion to make the changes through the Fair Work Commission by amending awards and enterprise agreements would take weeks, or even months.
“Now, the difficulty with that is that would require changes to 121 modern awards, an unknown, but high percentage of 11,000 enterprise agreement,” Mr Porter said.
“And four millions Australians who are under agreements, some tied to awards, some not tied to awards. That process, if it could be done, would take weeks, if not months, it complete.”
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