Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison has announced today that JobKeeper will be extended until March 2021 – six months past the original September 2020 end-date – with a lowered rate and new two-tiered payment.

From September 28, the two-tier payment will commence based on pre-COVID hours with $1,200 per fortnight for workers on 20 hours or more and $750 per fortnight for workers on less than 20 hours. From January 4, the top tier payment will be reduced further to $1,000 per fortnight and the second tier payment will be reduced to $650.

Rudy Crous, CEO and co-founder of leading talent solutions provider, Compono (pictured above), has shared his tips on how employers can retain their best talent amid these challenging times.

“JobKeeper has supported the Australian workforce through a very difficult time. The reality is that any change to the current program is likely to have an impact on businesses, individuals and family lives,” Crous said.

“Many employers across various sectors will still be faced with the difficult task of redundancies in the coming months and identifying which staff members to keep and let go will be critical to their business’s survival.

“This might be different to who is currently or previously your best performing staff – leaders must start putting a higher value on those who can quickly adapt with the business, learn new skills and add true value as outside conditions continue to evolve rapidly. Data has shown that this pandemic has hit the youngest of the workforce the hardest – but this is also the cohort most likely to respond and adapt the fastest to the ‘new norm’ business environment.”

Crous believes employers should consider doing the following:

1. Maintain employee engagement and morale through regular check-ins and seeking their feedback on what you can do better to support them right now

2. Reiterate their role’s purpose and how it might evolve to help execute refined company strategies to manage the downturn

3. Recognise their hard work and provide positive encouragement

4. Search for alignment with career development to learn new skills and progress, where possible

5. Be transparent – include them in conversations around your business’s situation

6. Brush up on your own leadership skills because good leadership is at its most valuable during difficult times

Retail associations welcome revamped JobKeeper

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has welcomed the extension of the JobKeeper program which CEO Paul Zahra said addressed the main concerns raised by the ARA in recent months.

“The October to December quarter is a make or break period for many retailers particularly this year as it includes Christmas trading and the start of the Boxing Day sales. Whilst at a reduced rate, JobKeeper’s extension will ensure that jobs in the retail sector, many of which are held by women and young people, will be preserved through a period that is vital for retailers’ recovery,” he said.

ARA CEO, Paul Zahra

“We are also pleased to see payments more closely aligned with working hours of staff with a lower payment for employees working less than 20 hours per week which addresses retailers’ concerns about fostering greater workplace cooperation with casuals and part-time staff.”

The National Retail Association (NRA) has also welcomed the extension of the JobKeeper subsidy but warned that the economic climate remains hostile for many businesses.

“The future of thousands of businesses and the jobs they provide remain firmly in the balance. The NRA welcomes the extension of the JobKeeper program until March 2021, but the economic terrain will remain hostile for many retailers,” NRA CEO Dominique Lamb said.

“The JobKeeper scheme has undoubtedly saved many jobs, the challenge was always going to be how it would be scaled back. We would have preferred an approach that extended it by industry. Sectors such as retail and tourism were always going to require additional assistance compared to other parts of the economy. The extension of JobKeeper until March will hopefully result in a boost to business confidence, but many employers will continue to tread carefully.”