Thursday, 8 October 2020
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Treasurer, Senator Cormann. What guarantees can the minister give that that government's hiring credits scheme will not be used by employers to cut the hours of existing employees, who are ineligible for the subsidy, in order to employ new workers who are eligible for the subsidy to replace them?
That is a very fair question and it's obviously something that we considered as we designed the program. The JobMaker hiring credit is only available for additional jobs. Employers cannot reduce their current workforce, either by dismissing employees or reducing their hours, and engage new workers performing the same work to receive the hiring credits. We've put some integrity measures in place. The most important ones include the fact that any employer who wants to take advantage of this scheme has to demonstrate that both the size of their payroll as well as the number of employees is going up. So the business's total employee head count, with a minimum of one additional employee from the reference date of 30 September 2020, and the payroll of the business for the reporting period as compared to the three months to 30 September 2020, have to be higher. To demonstrate that the job is additional, those specific criteria must be met, so they must meet these double-barrelled additionality criteria in order to access this credit.
As Senator Sheldon would be aware, all employees also have protections under industrial relations laws from unfair or unlawful dismissal, including non-genuine redundancies, and there are other integrity measures in place to ensure that employers cannot reclassify existing workers from contractors to employees to receive the hiring credit or move employees between entities within a single group. I hope that addresses Senator Sheldon's question.
What assurances can the minister give that the government's hiring credit scheme will not incentivise employers to lay off casual workers working more than 20 hours a week and then hire more workers who are eligible for the subsidy?
I think that I've fundamentally answered that question. Clearly, as we were putting this scheme in place, we put these integrity measures in place. What is the incentive for the employer not to do this? If the employer were to do this, they would no longer be eligible for the scheme. I would have thought that, if the employer wants to access the scheme, they can't do what Senator Sheldon has just described.
The usual industrial relations laws apply. What we're doing through this hiring credit is giving young people an opportunity to work over this 12-month period and to establish a track record of work performance which will stand them in good stead as they pursue their career moving forward.