Dedicated hotline needed to dob in dodgy JobKeeper bosses

23 Jul 2020

Posted April 16, 2020

Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie is calling on the Government to adequately fund a dedicated hotline for employees to seek urgent advice about their rights if they are unfairly pressured by employers over the COVID-19 JobKeeper scheme.

The call comes after the Centre Alliance MP was contacted by an employee who was offered her job back under the JobKeeper scheme but only if she gave them $600 of the $1,500 per fortnight payment in return.

"The employee quite rightly refused and the employer was no longer willing to file the JobKeeper paperwork with the Australian Tax Office, all the while being quite unpleasant and intimidating throughout the process," Rebekha said.

"This is unacceptable behaviour. During this time of crisis when the power imbalance between employee and employer is more marked than ever, vulnerable employees need a dedicated hotline to seek advice about their rights and their responsibilities.

"People can contact the Fair Work Ombudsman but there is no dedicated phoneline for these unusual employment circumstances.

"The Government says this is an economic crisis as well as a health crisis, and it certainly is, so Australians needs a dedicated hotline that deals solely with the intricacies of the JobKeeper scheme.

"The hotline would also act as a source of confidential information for Government to investigate allegations of intimidation and potential fraud to ensure there is some level of oversight on this temporary scheme.

"My office has received other complaints about the JobKeeper scheme, from both employees and employers, who have a range of concerns about the way it is structured, and I acknowledge those concerns.

"This scheme was put together quickly, because it had to be, and it relies on both employees and employers doing the right thing so businesses can re-start when the crisis-phase of the pandemic is over.

"A hotline will give employers and employees appropriate advice and provide a confidential avenue for people to report unscrupulous behaviour that warrants investigation.

"I think it is important to note that the majority of employers will do the right thing but the behaviour outlined in the case I highlighted is outrageous and must be called out."

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