Temporary reduction of hours under a JobKeeper enabling stand down direction
Frequently Asked Questions
Restrictions on international travel as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have significantly decreased refugee settlement numbers. This has had a negative impact on our organisation’s revenue. We have been in regular contact with our funders but, like us, they remain uncertain about when settlement will resume as normal.
As you are aware, SSI applied for the JobKeeper scheme in April. We were successful in this application and have been using this wage subsidy effective from early May.
Unfortunately, this subsidy has not been enough to offset our revenue decline, despite the additional budget restrictions and austerity measures we have introduced.
The challenge facing our organisation is how we avoid job losses while maintaining our quality, client-centred services.
To avoid losing members of our highly valued workforce, we are introducing reduced hours in some areas of our organisation.
This will not affect all staff.
Your line manager will consult with you about what is happening within your function and how these operational changes will impact your role.
Every situation is different, and these changes will affect different staff in different ways. Some staff may be asked to reduce their hours or days. Other staff will be asked to maintain their current hours due to factors such as funding arrangements, and client and business needs. If your hours are reduced, your pay will also be reduced accordingly (but you will always receive at a minimum $1500/fortnight (before tax) during the JobKeeper scheme).
For those of you whose hours have been affected, please know this is not a reflection on your work or the quality, ethics and innovation that every SSI staff member brings to their role.
A staff member’s hours may be affected if they can’t be usefully employed for their normal days or hours because of business changes arising as a result of COVID-19. SSI’s Executive Team is undertaking a capacity assessment of each functional area and weighing this up against factors such as funding arrangements and client and business needs.
Since the beginning of COVID-19, the Executive Team has been working in the background to establish the impact this will have on our business. We have taken actions to reduce this impact through applying for JobKeeper, reducing costs, freezing recruitment, adapting budgets and advocating for funding support.
We have also continued to diversify our revenue streams, in line with our strategic plan. An example of this is the recent LAC initiative win, which will come into effect in July and offset a small amount of the current revenue decline.
Our priority moving forward is to continue advocacy with our funders and, in the absence of that support, rigorously pursue new revenue streams.
The decision we have made to reduce hours is not a decision that has been made lightly. While difficult, it has allowed us to avoid job losses at this current stage.
SSI has engaged in substantial advocacy with our funders for many months in order to avoid an outcome where we either have to reduce headcount or staff hours. We will continue to advocate to preserve our skilled, valued workforce because we know the resumption of refugee resettlement is not a case of if – it is a case of ‘when’.
SSI has also introduced budget restrictions and is advocating for support and different revenue options with the Department of Home Affairs.
We have been in regular contact with our funders but, just like us, they do not know when settlement will resume as normal.
As an Executive team, we have had to face the hard truth that the future of refugee resettlement currently remains uncertain. Our financial situation largely depends on the future of the JobKeeper scheme – which also remains uncertain -– and the evolving international travel situation.
We will provide clarity to you as soon as we have it.