Accountants will soon be tasked with providing certificates to businesses being weaned off JobKeeper to enable them to cut employee hours or change their duties under temporary Fair Work changes.
Under new legislation introduced on Wednesday, businesses that qualified for the first round of JobKeeper, but are unable to qualify for JobKeeper 2.0 because they no longer satisfy the 30 per cent decline in turnover test, will still be able to access temporary Fair Work Act provisions for a further six months if they are experiencing a 10 per cent decline in turnover.
These temporary Fair Work Act provisions include being able to reduce employees’ ordinary hours by 40 per cent of the hours they worked before the pandemic struck, and give them directions in relation to duties and location of work.
In order for such businesses to qualify, they will be required to obtain a 10 per cent decline in turnover certificate from a registered company auditor; a registered tax agent, BAS agent or tax (financial) adviser; or a qualified accountant.
These accountants must be independent and external to the employer, and cannot be a director, employee or associated entity.
However, there will be a carve-out for small businesses with fewer than 15 employees to allow such employers to provide a statutory declaration to attest to the 10 per cent decline.
The 10 per cent decline in turnover test periods will align with BAS lodgement dates for each completed quarter.
False or misleading information provided to accountants in order to satisfy the 10 per cent decline in turnover test will face a maximum civil penalty of 60 penalty units for inpiduals or 300 penalty units for a corporate entity.
Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand assurance and reporting leader Amir Ghandar said the practical aspects on providing the 10 per cent decline in turnover test certificate have yet to be worked through with government officials, with engagement only just commencing.
“We will seek to work with the government to make sure the requirements are clear and accord with applicable professional standards,” Mr Ghandar said.
“CAs should be aware of the professional practice and insurance implications in undertaking assurance engagements.
“Employees and the organisations that represent them will rightly take a keen interest in the accountants’ work, and the Federal Court can examine whether an employer has indeed satisfied the 10 per cent test.”
27 August 2020