$130b wages package to pass today


The Morrison government's $130 billion JobKeeper scheme will pass on Wednesday during a special parliamentary sitting.

Unions and the coalition have struck a deal on the measures, with more protections for workers built into the draft laws.

Under the scheme, coronavirus-affected businesses will get $1500 in fortnightly payments to pass on to each employee.

Workers who have their hours cut will be able to request time to work a second job.

The Fair Work Commission will be able to review stand-down periods and employer changes to people's work location or duties.

Workers can agree to change their days, while bosses could also ask for annual leave to be taken, provided employees have two weeks left over.

Reasonable requests to take annual leave will not be able to be refused.



While unions pushed for changes to be made through the Fair Work Commission, the government will instead legislate temporary amendments to the Fair Work Act. Labor will back the legislation in parliament on Wednesday, while arguing for more casuals to be included.

While the JobKeeper payment is expected to cover six million people, 1.1 million casuals who have been with their employer less than a year are set to miss out.

Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter isn't budging on calls to include more casuals.

"I think there's going to be an agreement to disagree on casuals," Mr Porter said.

The government argues those workers not covered by JobKeeper will be eligible for the $1100-a-fortnight JobSeeker allowance and other welfare benefits.

Labor has also struck a deal to establish a select Senate committee to scrutinise all aspects of the government's coronavirus response.

While the opposition would prefer parliament to sit during the pandemic, it is satisfied the inquiry will be the next best thing with the government spending $320 billion on relief measures.

In the lower house, there will be 30 government MPs and 21 from Labor in the 151-member chamber.

A range of social distancing measures will be ensured to limit the potential for the virus to be transmitted.

Originally published as $130b wages package to pass today

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