It’s safe to say that salon owners are counting down the days until Prime Minister Scott Morrison announces we can re-open our doors. That excitement may not necessarily extend to all staff, though.

If your salon or clinic qualified for the JobKeeper payment, your stood-down staff will currently be receiving the fortnightly payments, while they wait out the lockdown period.

And while salons are currently being permitted to open for the sole purpose of selling retail stock and gift vouchers, it’s emerged that many employees are refusing to accept shifts.

“Some employers are facing the situation where staff do not want to work, or do not want to work reduced hours, but they still want to receive the JobKeeper payments and remain at home,” says Georgie Chapman, partner at HR Legal. “The Government has confirmed that employees still have obligations under their employment contracts to perform work, so long as it is safe to do so, and an entitlement to JobKeeper does not relieve employees of these obligations.”

As with many policies and rulings that have arisen throughout the pandemic however, the situation isn’t exactly back and white. 

“Employers should note that although an employee may refuse to work, they must continue to pass on the JobKeeper payment of $1,500 a fortnight if the employee is eligible to receive it, even if they refuse to work,” says Georgie.

Where an employee refuses to work, a salon owner is within their rights to give a lawful and reasonable direction to attend work, in accordance with the JobKeeper guidelines. And if that employee still refuses, without valid reason, the salon owner may consider disciplinary processes for “refusing to follow a lawful and reasonable direction,” Georgie explains.

While Georgie encourages salon owners to take a compassionate approach in such situation, as an employee may be frightened or anxious about returning to work during the pandemic, she also highlights that a fair process should be followed in all disciplinary processes.

“Where an employee is terminated due to misconduct, that will no longer be eligible for the JobKeeper payments.”


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