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On 30 March 2020, the federal government’s announcement about its JobKeeper package came as welcome relief for almost a million Australian businesses who had either stood down or were considering standing down workers as a result of the economic impacts of COVID-19.
Since then, approximately 2.1 million workers have benefitted from the scheme, which was due to wind up in September, but has, as of 21 July, been extended until 28 March 2021.
What is different about the JobKeeper extension compared to the first round of payments?
JobKeeper’s initial offering was a flat $ 1,500-fortnight payment, made to all eligible employees regardless of their usual hours and involvement in the business. This meant, for example, that a casual employee who worked an average of 6 hours per fortnight and ordinarily was paid $180 from that job would receive $1,500 through JobKeeper. The JobKeeper scheme was developed in haste and this flat rate of pay was only ever intended to be temporary. As part of the extension, this discrepancy has been taken into consideration and two new rates of pay will apply.
Is my business still eligible?
Businesses and Not-For-Profit organisations will still need to prove their eligibility to access the scheme by demonstrating that they have experienced a decline in turnover of:
- 50% for businesses with an aggregated turnover in excess of $1 billion;
- 30% for businesses with an aggregated turnover of $1 billion or less; and
- 15% for registered Not-For-Profits and Australian charities.
If your business did not initially experience a decline in turnover but has since done so, you may still be eligible for the JobKeeper scheme. New applicants are encouraged to apply even if they had not previously been eligible.
I’m a sole trader. Do I fit the criteria?
Sole traders and other business owners who are self-employed will continue to be eligible for JobKeeper, providing they have experienced a decline in turnover, and they are not employed by any other organisation.
Am I still eligible to receive payments as an employee?
You will be eligible to receive JobKeeper if you:
- were 18 years of age or older at 1 July 2020 (or 16 or 17 and independent or not undertaking full-time study);
- are an Australian resident or the holder of a Subclass 444 (Special Category) visa as at 1 July 2020;
- are currently employed by an eligible employer (including being stood down or re-hired by that employer);
- were a full-time, part-time, fixed-term employee or a long term casual employee who had worked regularly for that employer for at least 12 months at 1 July 2020; and
- had not received government parental leave or Dad and partner pay or workers compensation payments.
You may only receive JobKeeper payments from one employee, even if you have been stood down from multiple jobs.
If you have previously been receiving JobKeeper and continue to be eligible, you will receive the new rate of payment.
How much will I be paid?
From 28 September 2020 until 3 January 2021, employees who were working a minimum of 20 hours per week (on average) in the four weeks prior to either 1 March 2020 or 1 July 2020 (the “reference period”) will receive a payment of $1,200 per fortnight. This rate will drop to $1,000 per fortnight from 4 January 2021 until 28 March 2021.
Employees who worked for less than 20 hours per week (on average) in the four weeks prior to the reference period will receive a payment of $750 per fortnight until 3 January 2021, with this rate lowered to $650 per fortnight from 4 January 2021 until 28 March 2021.