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Hair & Beauty Australia Industry Association

BUSINESS AS USUAL – Getting your staff back to work.

Posted May 25, 2020

As we watch other industries start to open up again post-Corona Virus Crisis across Australia and as we anticipate opening in the Beauty Industry, we can learn a lot from other industries about what to expect in the coming weeks. Salon owners are counting down the days until Prime Minister Scott Morrison announces that the whole of the beauty industry can go back to business as usual – however, not all staff are as excited by the prospect.

There has been a rise of conversation from staff in closed industries that some staff do not want to work, do not want to work reduced hours, but DO want to keep receiving their JobKeeper payments. This could become a serious issue for salon owners, and it’s important that you understand your rights and your employees understand their obligations to navigate this grey area.

If your salon or clinic qualified for the JobKeeper payment, those staff that were stood down will currently be receiving their fortnightly payments while they (and you) wait out the lockdown period.

Although an employee may refuse to work, salon owners must continue to pass on the JobKeeper payment of $1500 per fortnight if the employee is eligible to receive it, even if they refuse to work.

If you’ve asked staff to take on reduced or altered shifts while your salon is open for the sole purpose of selling retail stock and gift vouchers, this can quickly become an area of serious contention in salon.

When an employee refuses to work, salon owners are within their rights to give a lawful and reasonable direction to continue to work. This is in accordance with the JobKeeper guidelines, and in the instance that the employee continues to refuse work, without a valid or reasonable reason, the salon owner is allowed to consider disciplinary processes for “refusing to follow a lawful and reasonable direction” as given by the salon owner.

The Australian Government has confirmed that as long as your employment contract states that any staff member must continue to perform work “as required by the business”, employees are still obliged to take on these kinds of shifts. An entitlement to JobKeeper does not relieve employees of the obligations that they have to their place of work, and the termination of any staff member due to misconduct would mean they are no longer eligible for JobKeeper payments. It is absolutely worth presenting this truth to any staff members who are taking a more destructive course of action.

HABA encourages all salon owners to take a reasonable and compassionate approach in the situation that conflict over work and work hours is raised by your staff, particularly in the instance that a staff member is frightened or anxious about returning to work during the latter stages of this pandemic. We ask salon owners to consider the most reasonable course of action, but ensure that a fair process is followed in all disciplinary processes, much as it would outside of these troubling times.

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