Can staff refuse to work while on JobKeeper?

During the JobKeeper period an employee cannot unreasonably refuse work. JobKeeper is a business support package and not an automatic payment to Employees. Your staff still have obligations under their employment contracts/agreements to perform work, so long as it is safe to do so, and an entitlement to JobKeeper does not relieve employees of these obligations.


Therefore if they are refusing a shift some key points to follow:

  • Make clear that this is a reasonable request as per their employment conditions and in line with JobKeeper requirements.

  • Detail how the workplace is safe and the precautions are in place for them to return to work.

  • If they refuse ask the reason why? And get that information from the employee

Depending on their response will depend on what happens next….

  1. They accept the shift and realise they have an obligation and we are all in this together.

  2. They have a genuine reason and you roster them on an alternative shift or the following roster.

  3. Their reason is not valid and you remind them of their obligations and ask them to attend, if they refuse then you can issue a warning for non attendance.

If an employee refuses without a valid reason, depending on the circumstances consider disciplinary processes against the employee for refusing to follow a lawful and reasonable direction. Which when continued or clear misconduct occurs you can then terminate.


You need to continue to pay the job keeper until they are terminated though ☹


Our recommendation is:


Employers should consider taking a compassionate approach in these difficult times where employees may be concerned for their safety or have other child or