On 30 March 2020 the Federal Government announced a third stimulus measure designed to keep more Australians in employment during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Legislation to implement the measure was passed by Parliament on 8 April 2020.

The proposed JobKeeper Payment is a subsidy paid to businesses significantly impacted by COVID-19 to help them pay their employees, keep people in their jobs and restart when the crisis is over.
 

 

This means employees can continue to receive an income – even if their hours have been reduced or they’ve been stood down.

The first payment will be made in the first week of May, back dated to 30 March 2020. The measure will run for six months from 30 March 2020.

How much employees will receive

Eligible employees will receive a minimum of $1,500 per fortnight before tax from their employer even if their current or previous earnings were less than this.

Employees earning more than $1,500 per fortnight will continue to receive their previous wage subject to any workplace agreement. Those who have been stood down will receive a minimum of $1,500 per fortnight from their employer.

Eligibility rules for employers and employees

The government will provide eligible businesses with $1,500 per fortnight per employee for up to six months. It will also be available to the self-employed.
Employers (including non-for-profits) will be eligible for the subsidy if they have:

  • business turnover of less than $1 billion and turnover has reduced by more than 30% relative to a comparable period a year ago (of at least a month), or
  • business turnover of $1 billion or more and turnover has reduced by more than 50% relative to a comparable period a year ago (of at least a month).

To take part in the scheme, employers must apply to the ATO at ato.gov.au with supporting information demonstrating a downturn in their business. Employers will need to report the number of eligible employees on a monthly basis. They’ll receive a payment for each eligible employee who was on their books on 1 March 2020 and continues to be engaged by that employer – including full-time, part-time, long-term casuals and stood-down employees.

Casual employees need to have been with their employer on a regular basis for at least the previous 12 months as at 1 March 2020, to receive the payment.

Things to be aware of

It may be a good idea to check with your employer that they’re registered for the scheme first, before applying. If an employer hasn’t registered for the scheme, their employees won’t be able to access the JobKeeper Payment. However, this doesn’t mean an employee won’t have access to the JobSeeker Payment.

If a person is already receiving JobSeeker Payments, they can’t also collect the JobKeeper Payments.

Superannuation and income support

It will be up to the employer to determine if they want to pay superannuation on any additional wage paid because of the JobKeeper Payment.

Employment income (including that subsidised by the JobKeeper Payment) is included in the income test and may mean recipients no longer qualify for Centrelink income support or other benefits.

Legislation will need to be passed by Parliament before the JobKeeper Payment becomes law.

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