Issue 5 2021 - COVID Flexibilities to end soon – what are your options?

Updated: Jun 28

JobKeeper workplace flexibilities for the COVID pandemic are about to end. When they do, employers may need to look for other lawful workforce management options. To minimise disputation and risk, affected employers should plan and take advice as soon as possible.


Many employers continue to be affected adversely by the COVID 19 pandemic and associated restrictions. Some have been able to use the temporary JobKeeper changes in the Fair Work Act 2009 to adjust labour costs and practices though such things as:

  • partial stand downs or reductions in hours of work;

  • changes to work locations, including working from home;

  • requiring an employee to perform other work within their skill;

  • changes to times of work; and

  • changes to days of work.

On 29 March, these specific Fair Work Act flexibilities will cease. The government has not indicated any plans to extend them. It will not be lawful to simply continue with them beyond the repeal date. The usual award, contract and enterprise agreement rules will apply once again.

Where an employer is experiencing continued financial difficulties, there may be options to implement strategies to maintain employees’ jobs to the extent possible while reducing employment costs to match the available work. These could include such things as permanent restructuring, redundancies, extended leave or leave without pay, or agreed changes to employment contracts.

What is possible will very much depend on the specific industrial instruments and the culture of the workplace.

Whatever the option, thorough and genuine consultation with employees and their representatives will be vital.

Require further information/assistance?

If you require further information or specific advice about your situation, please contact one of our consultants.