Today Prime Minister Scott Morrison made a short update on new measures to support workers to participate in the economy.
This includes free access to childcare for all essential workers as well as changes to employee Awards, saving tens of thousands of jobs.
Free childcare for essential workers
Education Minister Dan Tehan announced $1.6b support for the childcare sector to ensure essential workers have access to childcare for the next 6 months. This Government will pay childcare centres 50% of the fees up to the rate cap in the fortnight before 2 March, supporting up to 13,000 childcare centres, before and after school and vacation care to stay open.
Childcare providers are encouraged to finalise their billing this week as the system will change from Sunday night to pay fees from the Government directly to centres. The payments will be paid in lieu of the Child Care Subsidy (CCS) and Additional Child Care Subsidy payments and access to funding is no longer means tested.
- The Government will pay 50% of the sector’s fee revenue up to the existing hourly rate cap based on a point in time before parents started withdrawing their children in large numbers, but only so long as services remain open and do not charge families for care.
- Childcare centres can waive the gap fee to parents backdated to 23 March.
- Funding applies from 6 April based on the number of children who were in care during the fortnight leading into 2 March, whether or not they are attending services.
- Families will be able to use the 20 extra absence days the government has funded for coronavirus related reasons without giving up their place in a child care centre.
- Early childhood education and child care services do not need to apply for the payments, they will be paid automatically. The new system is expected to see payments start flowing at the end of next week.
It is also expected that the new JobKeeper package will support the sector to the tune of over $1b.
Childcare operators may also be eligible for other business support packages announced in recent weeks, including loan guarantees, cash flow boost payments, and other measures which differ from State to State.
Changes to Industry Awards support jobs
Attorney-General and Minister for Industrial Relations Christian Porter also gave a short summary of the changes being made to Industry Awards to provide better protection for workers affected by COVID-19. There are 121 modern awards, with significant changes made to three – for clerks, retail and hospitality. These three awards represent approximately 2 million workers.
Amongst the changes include:
- An individual worker who was performing one type of duty in one type of classification can now move and perform another type of duty in another type of classification.
- Facilitated working from home arrangements.
- Workers can access twice the length of leave at half pay.
There are an additional 103 Awards that will be modified in future and the Minister for Industrial Relations thanked Fair Work Australia, unions and employer associations for coming together in response to the coronavirus COVID-19. Alongside the JobKeeper package, these welcome changes will support businesses navigate the challenges presented by COVID-19.
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