The tax office has begun the process of winding back the team responsible for JobKeeper as the government looks to close the books on the billion-dollar program that supported millions during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Australian Taxation Office told staff working within its Economic Stimulus Branch on Thursday it would soon begin its plan to wind down operations and reduce staff ahead of the discontinuation of COVID-19 stimulus programs, such as JobKeeper and JobMaker.
Following the first week of March, hundreds of staff will be peeled away and returned to their previous roles as the branch begins its downsize to pre-pandemic levels.
Branch head James O'Halloran thanked staff for their successful administration but said the reduced workload would result in staff redeployed during the surge would return to usual roles or be reassigned to other priority work.
Around 400 ongoing staff are expected to be redeployed to their original roles by the end of March with many of those returning to the Superannuation and Employer Obligations branch.
Nearly 350 non-ongoing employees will be moved to other roles with around 100 ending their six-month contracts and expected to undertake casual work for the Debt and Lodgment branch.
By May, around 100 non-ongoing employees are expected to finish contracts and be moved into casual roles elsewhere.
No job losses are anticipated from the changes that signal the end of the government's commitment to the various stimulus programs the team handled during the difficult period.
The Australian Services Union's tax branch welcomed that there would be no job losses but its tax secretary Jeff Lapidos said he hoped the agency would give staff the space to relearn their old roles again.
"The issue with the wind down of the economic stimulus branch of the ATO, separate from the question of whether JobKeeper should be retained for a further period, is that staff being moved elsewhere will need refresher training," Mr Lapidos said.
"[Staff need] a reasonable period of time for them to re-learn their old jobs, jobs that are just as likely to have changed somewhat since they left them back in April ."
The branch was tasked with administering the JobKeeper program as a part of the government's response to the economic impact of COVID-19.
First introduced at the end of March 2020 at the onset of the health crisis, JobKeeper was initially slated to last until the end of September. It was later extended to finish at the end of March 2021 but with a reduced two-tier payment.
The 12-month stimulus program is estimated to have cost more than $100 billion.