The introduction of JobKeeper in March was a much-needed lifeline for many businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The reintroduction of strict shutdowns in Victoria has forced many businesses to “hibernate” again, while many businesses that are allowed to operate have suffered losses due to the lockdown. The ongoing closure of state borders continues to impact businesses nationally, with events, hospitality and tourism businesses hit hardest.
In light of the Victorian lockdown and continued impacts on businesses throughout Australia, the Federal Government announced an extension of the JobKeeper scheme, and this Bill has now passed Royal Assent.
The Bill extends the JobKeeper Scheme until 28 March 2021, as well as making it easier for employers to qualify for the scheme and adjusting the reference dates for employee eligibility.
Businesses will need to satisfy the JobKeeper turnover tests at the start of October 2020 and again at the start of January 2021 using actual GST turnover instead of projected turnover.
Eligibility for the JobKeeper payment from 28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021 requires businesses to reassess their eligibility with reference to actual GST turnover in the September 2020 quarter in comparison to actual GST turnover in the September 2019 quarter.
Businesses will then need to reassess their eligibility from 4 January 2021 to 28 March 2021 by comparing actual GST turnover in the December 2020 quarter against their actual GST turnover in the December 2019 quarter.
The JobKeeper extension increases employee eligibility, with the relevant date of employment changing from 1 March 2020 to 1 July 2020, with eligible employees being those who:
- Are currently employed by the eligible employer (including those stood down or re-hired);
- Are employed either as a:
- full-time or part-time employee, or
- a casual employed on a regular and systematic basis for longer than 12 months as at 1 July 2020;
- Are aged 18 years or older at 1 July 2020 (with 16 and 17 year-old employees qualifying if they are independent or not undertaking full time study);
- Are either an Australian resident; or an Australian resident for the purpose of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 and the holder of a Subclass 444 (Special Category) visa as at 1 March 2020; and
- Are not in receipt of any of parental leave payments or worker compensation payments.
The amendment reduces the payment rate for eligible employees from $1,500 per fortnight to $1,200 per fortnight from 28 September 2020, then $1,000 per fortnight from 4 January 2021.
For employees who worked fewer than 20 hours per week, the payment rate will drop from $1,500 to $750 per fortnight, and will reduce to $650 per fortnight from 4 January 2021.
The breadth of Government stimulus packages is wide and stipulations are complex. We absolutely applaud the government and how they have helped many Australian businesses keep their heads above water. For assistance in navigating these changes, claiming for JobKeeper or other business stimulus measures, contact the team at BridgePoint Group on 1300 656 141 or email firstname.lastname@example.org