While there’s been some confusion over the package — and no doubt there are still issues and procedures that need to be ironed out on making it happen — we wanted to detail what we’ve learned so far about the announcement.
The payments will run for six months through the tax system and paid via employers, backdated from the 30th March as payments will start flowing through to businesses in May.
It will see a standard payment of $1500 a fortnight paid to employers working full-time or part-time, and to casual employees who have been with their employers for at least 12 months. Sole traders and those who’re self employed are also eligible for the payment.
Those who have lost their jobs since March 1 will also be eligible, if they can be rehired by their employer — meaning some of those applying for Centrelink payments can instead move to this JobKeeper option.
It’s estimated that 6 million Australians will access the JobKeeper payment.
The package will go to businesses and not for profits that can prove they have taken a 30 per cent hit to their turnover due to Coronavirus, when compared to a comparable period a year ago. For businesses that turnover more than $1 billion, they will need to have taken a 50 per cent hit. There will be legal obligations for employers to ensure the full wage subsidy is passed onto employees.
The fortnightly payment is made regardless of whether the business is operating during this period or not. While businesses will need to pay at least $1,500 a fortnight, it’s at their discretion to determine if anything will be paid above that.
The payment is 70 per cent of the median wage in Australia, and 100 per cent for many of those most affected by the crisis, according to the Morrison Government.
The package has been described as ‘unprecedented action’ for ‘unprecedented times’ by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, with the aim of getting businesses and their employees to the “other side” of the Coronavirus crisis.
“This is about keeping the connection between the employer and the employee and keeping people in their jobs even though the business they work for may go into hibernation and close down for six months,” said Morrison.
“We will give millions of eligible businesses and their workers a lifeline to not only get through this crisis, but bounce back together on the other side.”
The JobKeeper scheme is the third tranche of emergency assistance that’s been announced over the past two weeks and now totals $320 billion, a figure that amounts to the equivalent of 16.4 per cent of GDP.
“Extraordinary times calls for extraordinary measures,” said Treasurer Josh Frydendberg (pictured above). He said the new JobKeeper scheme was the best chance of keeping employees connected to their employer, so they can “bounce back” following the crisis.
Yesterday the Government also announced the seperate ‘JobSeeker’ payment would be expanded, with the partner income test for those eligible increased to almost $80,000 a year, up from the previous cap of $48,000.
The website for companies to register their interest in the JobKeeper program is here. More than 8000 had already done so in the hours after the package’s announcement.