With parts of Australia facing a second wave of COVID-19 (coronavirus) cases and returning to lockdowns, the Federal Government has announced an extension to its economic support measures.

The changes to the JobKeeper wage subsidy payment and the JobSeeker unemployment supplement are designed to protect the economy and livelihoods as Australia faces its first recession in 30 years.

Changes to the JobKeeper Payments were announced on 7 August 2020 to alter the reference date for employee eligibility and make it easier for organisations to qualify for the JobKeeper Payment extension.

We explain the changes below and also discuss the extension of Early Access to Super.


Current JobKeeper payment

So far, the government says more than $30 billion in JobKeeper payments have been paid to 3.5 million employees and 960,000 businesses1.

The JobKeeper wage subsidy payment will continue in its current format of a $1,500 fortnightly payment until the original end-date of 27 September 2020.2

The JobKeeper payment is paid to employers as a subsidy for income paid to eligible workers, providing the employer can demonstrate a specified reduction in turnover, depending on the size and nature of the business, due to COVID-19.3

Changes to JobKeeper from 28 September 2020

From 28 September 2020 until 3 January 2021, the JobKeeper payment will reduce to:

  • $1,200 per fortnight for all eligible employees who were working in the business, or not-for-profit, for 20 hours or more a week on average in the four weeks of pay periods before either 1 March 2020 or 1 July 2020, and for eligible business participants who were actively engaged in the business for 20 hours or more per week on average, and
  • $750 for other eligible employees and business participants.

From 28 September 2020, organisations looking to claim JobKeeper payments will be required to reassess their eligibility for the JobKeeper extension with reference to their actual GST turnover (rather than projected GST turnover) in the September quarter 20202.

Organisations will need to demonstrate that they have met the relevant continuing decline in turnover test in both of those quarters to be eligible for JobKeeper Payment from 28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021. For further information, please see the Treasury’s JobKeeper Payment Factsheet.

Changes to JobKeeper from 4 January 2021

From 4 January 2021 to 28 March 2021, the payment will reduce further, to:

  • $1,000 per fortnight for all eligible employees who were working in the business, or not-for-profit for 20 hours or more a week on average in the four weeks of pay periods before either 1 March 2020 or 1 July 2020, and for business participants who were actively engaged in the business for 20 hours or more per week on average, and

  • $650 per fortnight for other eligible employees and business participants.

In January 2021, organisations will then need to reassess their eligibility for the period from 4 January to 28 March 2021, including demonstrating that they’ve met the relevant decline in turnover test in the December 2020 quarter to remain eligible for the March 2021 quarter. For further information, please see the Treasury’s JobKeeper Payment Factsheet.

Summary of JobKeeper payment changes

  Until 27 September 2020 28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021 4 January 2021 to 28 March 2021
Full time employees $1,500 fortnightly
payment
$1,200 per fortnight $1,000 per fortnight
Worked <20 hours per week (on average) in February
or June 2020
  $750 per fortnight $650 per fortnight

Source: Australian Treasury, Economic Response to the Coronavirus - JobKeeper Extension

To understand if you’re eligible for JobKeeper, please visit the ATO website

Current coronavirus supplement

The $550 per fortnight coronavirus supplement (paid to recipients of the JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance Jobseeker, Parenting Payment, Farm Household Allowance and Special Benefit) will continue until its original end-date of 24 September 2020.4

But from 4 August, people looking for work must be willing to accept any offer of suitable paid work and penalties will apply for unreasonable refusal.

Changes to the coronavirus supplement from 25 September 2020

The current amount of $550 per fortnight will continue to be paid to eligible recipients until 24 September 2020. From then until 31 December 2020, the Coronavirus supplement will reduce to $250 per fortnight and will cease from 31 December 2020.

However, the government has indicated it may make further announcements about possibly extending the coronavirus supplement into 2021 when it announces the delayed Federal Budget on 6 October.

‘JobSeekers’ will also be required to undertake a higher number of job searches from 25 September 2020. From that date however, the income-free threshold will be increased, meaning people can earn up to $300 a fortnight without their payment being affected.

Summary of coronavirus supplement changes

   Until 24 September 2020 25 September 2020 to 31 December 2020 From 1 January 2021

 JobSeeker  $565 per fortnight $565 per fortnight  Further announcements
on 6 October 2020
Coronavirus
supplement
$550 per fortnight $250 per fortnight

Source: Australian Treasury, Economic Response to the Coronavirus —Extension of additional income support for individuals

Temporary early access to super

Eligible Australian and New Zealand citizens and permanent residents were able to apply online through myGov to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation before 1 July 2020, and a further $10,000 from 1 July 2020 until 24 September.

The temporary early access to super scheme has now been extended until 31 December 20205

For more information visit the ATO website or our information pages about early access to super.

Impact on the Australian economy

AMP Capital chief economist Dr Shane Oliver says the extension of both payments makes sense given that many of the jobs affected by COVID-19 will not have recovered by the end of September.

“We estimate that the effective unemployment rate is now 11.3%, which is well above the official rate of 7.4%,” Dr Oliver says.

“This has fallen from 14.8% in April, thanks to the reopening of the economy, but with the threat to recovery posed by the second wave of cases effective unemployment may only fall to around 10% by September, so continued income support is essential.”

This difference between the effective and official employment rate is largely attributable to ‘zombie businesses’ where people and businesses are being solely sustained by government subsidies during this difficult period which impacts how the data is captured.

Other financial support

Other COVID-19 support for retirees remain unchanged.



1. Abc news, JobKeeper and JobSeeker extended for months but rates cut and eligibility tightened
2. Australian Treasury, Economic Response to the Coronavirus JobKeeper Extension
3. Australian Tax Office, JobKeeper Payment, Eligible employers
4. Australian Treasury, Economic Response to the Coronavirus Extension of additional income support for individuals
5. Australian Treasury, Early access to superannuation

COVID-19: My cash is starting to run out

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