Getting people back to work – a Social and Commercial priority.

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Getting people back to work – a Social and Commercial priority.

The last 5 months have been extremely challenging for everyone – possibly none more than employees and their employers. The provision of elevated levels of social support through JobKeeper and JobSeeker programs have no doubt allowed many people to survive what would otherwise have been a much more significant set of consequences from the shutdowns and restrictions.

However, as we are hopefully now seeing a reduction in the rapid spread and growth of COVID-19 it is well and truly time to focus on making sure we can get people back to work – so that the businesses who need their services can start the slow process of rebuilding.

With our business operating in three States with very different levels of COVID-19 restrictions, you could be forgiven for thinking that we’d be seeing very different attitudes from employees in each of the east coast capital cities. But, strangely, we’re not!

What is giving us cause for concern at the moment is the large number of people who have been receiving benefits, while there was little or no work available for them, now refusing to work. The recent response of a chef who we’ve employed on a casual basis for some years to the offer of shifts on a Saturday and Sunday (good rates due to weekend penalties) sums it up – “I’m making $1200 and until you can offer me more work than that, I’m staying home”.

We know from first-hand experience that there are still a significant number of people keen for as much work as they can get. Many of them working for us here in Victoria have accepted the challenges associated with Occupational Health & Safety to make sure we can keep our elderly fed and as well looked-after as possible. But the attitude of a number of our former employees has really taken us by surprise – and we’ve been recruiting non-stop as a result.

So how do we get people to accept work so that all of the businesses trying to rebuild are able to take the many small steps to recovery ahead of them?

Our take is that there ought to be an online Register of some kind to allow employers to enter the details or people refusing to work. The government has made it possible for people to earn up to $300 per fortnight with no offset, after which the JobSeeker payment reduces by 60c for every $1 earned. That certainly allows for some flexibility, but it doesn’t stop those simply refusing to work – at least until the requirement to actively look for work is re-introduced.

Whatever decisions the governments make to motivate people to return to work, we hope they act sooner rather than later. Having able-bodied people who are skilled and qualified to do work that is on offer stay home at the expense of all tax payers really shouldn’t be an option!