About the "JobKeeper" wage subsidy program

The Prime Minister has announced a $130bn wage subsidy program to support workers impacted by COVID-19.

This afternoon the Prime Minister has just announced a $130bn COVID-19 job subsidy package:

  • "JobKeeper payments" of a flat $1500 before tax per fortnight will be made via the ATO to employers to pay employees. That's about 70% of the median wage – up to 100% for harder-hit sectors;
  • It's a flat payment, not a wage subsidy, therefore it has a progressive impact on the economy. It protects lower-paid people better by making sure that they get more money in proportion to someone very well-paid;
  • Money will be available in May, and backdated to today, to protect anyone who's lost their job as of 1 March, and the scheme is also designed to capture sole traders and casuals;
  • Because employers will run this via the ATO, there's no need for more people to join the dole queue;
  • Also the Centrelink partner income threshold will rise to $79,000, which will make a lot more people eligible for income support payments. 

Sole traders and casuals are captured in limited ways, as outlined in the Prime Minister’s media release:

  • "Full time and part time employees, including stood down employees, would be eligible to receive the JobKeeper Payment.
  • "Where a casual employee has been with their employer for at least the previous 12 months they will also be eligible for the Payment.
  • "An employee will only be eligible to receive this payment from one employer.
  • "Self-employed individuals are also eligible to receive the JobKeeper Payment."

This responds directly to some of the priorities outlined by industry and worker groups all over Australia, including last Friday's creative industry letter.

This package requires legislation to be enacted by the Australian Parliament. Given the unsuitability of the package in its current form to many artists and artsworkers who work on a casual basis across multiple employers, NAVA is working closely with fellow industry bodies and political decision-makers to advocate for a package that's fair and able to be accessed by all workers.

In the absence of details at this very early stage, the ATO has set up a page for employers and sole traders to register for updates about the scheme:

https://www.ato.gov.au/general/gen/JobKeeper-payment/

Update 7 August 2020: JobKeeper extension

From 28 September 2020, organisations seeking to claim JobKeeper payments will be required to reassess their eligibility for the JobKeeper extension with reference to their actual turnover in the September quarter 2020. Organisations will need to demonstrate that they continue to meet the decline in turnover test. If the organisation is eligible they will continue with JobKeeper until 3 January 2021 with the rates of $1,200 per fortnight for employees who were working 20 hours per week or more before 1 March 2020 and $750 per fortnight for employees who were working less than 20 hours per week before 1 March 2020.

Organisations will need to further reassess their eligibility in January 2021. Organisations will need to demonstrate that they have met the continuing decline in turnover test in the December quarter to continue with JobKeeper until 28 March 2021. The rates will change to $1,000 per fortnight for employees who were working 20 hours per week or more before 1 March 2020 and $650 per fortnight for employees who were working less than 20 hours per week before 1 March 2020.

For further information see the Treasury website https://treasury.gov.au/coronavirus/jobkeeper/extension