Question :
Hi I have a casual staff member who did average of 20.5 hrs before lockdown and I received  the subsidy for them. I have been paying 100% and now 80% with minimal cashflow. Now we are back at work I can only offer 5-10hours. Do I top up her hours to meet the 80% payment with the subsidy? Thanks 

Question submitted 18/05/20 @ 05:31pm
Industry: HR & Talent
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    I am not an expert on the employment law so will only answer with this. I’d recommend an open, transparent conversation about the situation. You may need to take it week by week. Aim to look after your GOOD staff and your cash-flow. I appreciate the two don’t often go hand in hand. Good luck


    Morena – think about this as ‘two parts’. First part is the Employment Law part – what her contract says, and what the employment law says around any change on the terms of an employees contract. 2nd part is the obligations around the wage subsidy you have received which I assume is a part-time subsidy.

    First part – if you are going to change the casual staff member’s terms, then you will need to look at what the contract with her/him says ie does it offer a guaranteed set of hours or is it truly casual ie you can set the hours. Once you have clarity on this, then you still need to consult through this change, explain the reasons why and give her the opportunity to respond etc – just talk to her/him/

    Second part – this is a bit of a challenge around the math, but as I understand, your obligation is pass over the full amount of the wage subsidy to the casual that you claimed and got paid by MSD. This has nothing to do with how many hours she works. The way I would work this out is like this:
    1) calculation one – how much is the wage subsidy you are getting for their role = $350 per week
    2) calculation two – how much are you paying her for the 5-10 hours per week. Lets just say you are giving her 10 hours at $25 per hour = $250 for the week.
    3) calculation three = you look at the difference between 2 and 1 – so she has been paid $250 and you have received $350 from MSD for her role, she you have to top up her pay by $100. If however, the person ended up working 20 hours at $25 per hour, then she would be paid $500 and you would have $350 from MSD and you would need to top her up $150, unless the person agreed to accept a lower rate (with consultation).

    End result – you have to pay the person at a min. the wage subsidy, and you can pay them more, but you can’t pay them less.

    If you agree with the person that she stops working for you and leaves, then you need to pay back the unused portion of the MSD subsidy you have claimed, and MSD can help you work that out.

    Does that help?


    Just picking up on the above and one point of additional clarification – The wage subsidy is for fixed amounts (e.g. $350 for those who work on average less than 20 hours per week).

    If you applied for the wage subsidy after 4pm on the 27th March 2020, you declared that you will, for the period you receive the subsidy, pay at least the full amount of the subsidy to the employee.

    Advice to date from the government through to ER lawyers is that if your employee’s usual wages are less than the subsidy, you can pay them their usual wages if it is for example less than $350. Any difference can then be used for the wages of other affected staff. If to Andy’s point the hours they work then means they are earning more than the $350 then you will need to top this up.

    The wage subsidy is designed to keep your employees connected to you.

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