Fair Work Commission reduces JobKeeper hours reduction

An employer who issued a JobKeeper-enabling stand-down direction cutting a full-time worker's hours by 50% has been ordered by the Fair Work Commission to reduce the reduction to 20%.

The Fair Work Commission accepted that Live Events Australia Pty Ltd's direction on June 12 complied with the requirements of  Section 789GDC91) of the Fair Work Act and also found it reasonable to make the stand-down direction.

However, he held that Live Events "overplayed its hand" because of the unreasonable terms of the direction, which cut the broadcast engineer's hours from 80 a fortnight to 40.

The Fair Work Commission amended the direction to increase his hours to 64 a fortnight, or 80% of what he found to be the engineer's normal hours.

He found the reduction disproportionate to his rostered time and prospective working hours, even when factoring-in risks of "unscheduled interruption" to horse racing events in WA, which accounted for 97% of his work.

The Fair Work Commission also found it disproportionate to the arrangements applying to other technical crew working on sporting events in the State, who were performing about 80 hours a fortnight.

"Live Events imposed a direction reducing working hours of [the broadcast engineer] to 48 per fortnight at the very time it expected to continue to roster [the broadcast engineer] in excess of 48 hours per fortnight, and in fact continued to do so given that productive work was available to be performed by [the broadcast engineer] at the rostered levels."

The company, part of the Mediatec Group, broadcasts live sporting events.

Fair Work Commission said that the coronavirus pandemic "severely disrupted" community activities, including events and sport.

However, horse racing had continued "relatively uninterrupted", albeit without crowds and with social distancing protocols.

Allan Jones v Live Events Australia Pty Ltd [2020] FWC 3469 (3 July 2020)