Fears that JobMaker disadvantages ECEC employees over 35, and prompts casual roles
Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) President Michele O’Neil has expressed serious concerns about the design of the JobMaker Hiring Credit and the likely outcome for workers and the economy.
Designed to address concerns about youth unemployment, both pre and post pandemic, JobMaker will cost $4bn over three years, and aims to support the employment of 450,000 people aged 35 or younger.
Latest youth unemployment figures show that youth unemployment is now 14.3 per cent, more than double the rate of unemployment generally.
Effective 7 October 2020, eligible employers have been able to claim $200 a week for each additional employee they hire (aged between 16 and 29) and $100 a week for those aged between 30 and 35.
Government agencies, sovereign entities (including wholly owned foreign resident subsidiaries) and companies claiming Jobkeeper are ineligible for the payments, which cannot be combined with other wage subsidies such as apprenticeship funding.
Employees must work at least 20 hours per week, and the credit can only be claimed by one employer for each eligible employee.
Ms O’Neil will give evidence to an upcoming Senate Inquiry examining JobMaker, to express the union’s serious concerns about the design of the scheme, including:
- The potential for the replacement of existing workers with subsidised workers;
- The prioritisation of short term, insecure jobs;
- The lack of any requirement that employers commit to paying legal rates of pay and complying with industrial and health and safety laws as a condition of receiving the subsidy;
- Leaving millions of workers aged over 35 without access to meaningful government support to find work now, and crucially once JobKeeper ends in March of 2021;
- That women are substantially less likely than men to be eligible for this scheme because many have been forced out of the labour market and therefore will not qualify for the prerequisite payments; and,
- The low rate of the subsidies available ($100-200 a week) which are unlikely to provide enough incentive for employers to take upon the program.
“We need to create secure jobs which will put money in the hands of working people and give them the confidence to spend,” Ms O’Neil said.
Instead, she claims, the Federal Government is funneling young people into insecure jobs – exacerbating a crisis of insecure work which pre-dated the crisis.
“This scheme will not help us escape this recession and restart the economy. We have been calling for months for the Government to step up and make meaningful investments in areas like aged care, tourism, manufacturing, early childhood education and public infrastructure construction,” she added.
“We have already seen the number of jobs this program is expected to create reduced by 90 per cent, meaning it will be available to a tiny fraction of young people who need a job.”
Ms O’Neil called on the Government to address the serious concerns which the union movement and others have raised with this scheme, and release “a comprehensive national economic reconstruction plan to create secure jobs and start the recovery”.
To learn more about JobMaker, please see here.