There have been many jobs and businesses that have been affected by COVID-19. However, for whatever reason, a loss of a job can be an extremely stressful time.

From the 1st of January 2021, terminated employees may be asked to provide an Employment Separation Certificate when applying for government income support (AKA Centrelink payments). If you have lost your job and wish to apply for unemployment benefits, ask your employer for an Employment Separation Certificate. If you are an employer who has had to let an employee go, you should provide an Employment Separation Certificate to your terminated employee. 

This article will give you the lowdown on Employment Separation Certificates, what they are, what you need to do if a former employee asks for one, and how you can provide them as an employer.

Employment Separation Certificates

An Employment Separation Certificate is a Services Australia Form that outlines the basic details about a former employee’s employment. It covers things such as:

  • The period of their employment
  • The reason for separation of employment – this could for a variety of reasons, such as genuine redundancy due a shortage of work, a contract coming to an end, unsatisfactory performance, misconduct, or resignation
  • The employee’s average weekly wage
  • Details of their final pay and any related entitlements, such as any accrued annual leave entitlements and/or redundancy pay

When Do You Need To Provide An Employment Separation Certificate?

The purpose of an Employment Separation Certificate is to help Services Australia to assess your claim for income support accurately and ensure individuals are receiving the correct amount in benefits.

In the majority of cases, you may be asked to fill out an Employment Separation Certificate, after an employee’s time working with you comes to an end, regardless of the reason. However, there are some other situations in which an employee that is still working for you may ask for an Employment Separation Certificate, such as if their work hours have been reduced or if their employment type has changed from full-time to casual work.

It’s always a good idea to have your employees’ information readily accessible and in a format that is easy to understand. This way, you can avoid the headache involved with digging through your records and interpreting the information required to complete the Employment Separation Certificate. Remember, it is a legal requirement that you keep employee records for 7 years under section 535 of the Fair Work Act 2009

Who Can Ask You For An Employment Separation Certificate?

You will need to provide an Employment Separation Certificate if asked to produce one by an employee or former employee. 

In addition to this, you may also receive a request for an employee’s information from Centrelink.

How Do I Provide An Employment Separation Certificate? 

Employers can submit an Employment Separation Certificate online using Centrelink Business Online Services. For detailed information, you can visit Service Australia’s help for employers page or their step-by-step guide to submitting an Employment Separation Certificate online.

If you cannot use Centrelink Business Online Services for any reason, you can fill out the Employment Separation Certificate form and hand it back to the employee. Department of Human Services will also receive fax copies of the form.

Do You Have To Provide An Employment Separation Certificate?

Yes.

After receiving a request for an Employment Separation Certificate – regardless of whether you receive the request from an employee, former employee, or Centrelink – you must produce the Certificate within 14 days.

What’s The Difference Between Separation And Termination Of Employment?

Understanding the difference between separation and termination of employment can sometimes be confusing. 

Separation is a blanket term that covers any scenario in which an employer or employee decides to end employment, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. Boiling it down, employees only leave a job for two reasons: they leave voluntarily, or they are asked to leave. The latter is what we refer to as termination of employment. 

Examples of voluntary separation may include things such as:

  • Retirement
  • Better opportunities or accepting a job elsewhere
  • Job dissatisfaction
  • Other changes in circumstance

In contrast, involuntary separation, or termination, may look something like:

  • Termination for cause – this could involve reasons such as a lack of capacity, poor or unsatisfactory performance, or misconduct
  • Redundancy
  • An employment contract coming to an end – this often happens with temporary positions

It is important to note that employees are protected from unfair dismissal by the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth). Find out more about the ins and outs of unfair dismissals in our article here.

Need Help With Employment Separation Certificates?

If you need help providing an Employment Separation Certificate to an employee or former employee, give us a call on 1800 730 617 or shoot us an email at team@sprintlaw.com.au for a free, no-obligations chat. We have a team of friendly and experienced lawyers who are happy to help you out and put your mind at ease!

About Sprintlaw

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