COVID-19 | Updated JobKeeper Scheme
On 21 July 2020, the Federal Government announced that it would be extending the JobKeeper payment scheme for eligible employers until 28 March 2021.
The JobKeeper scheme, which was originally due to come to an end on 27 September 2020, will now be targeted towards those businesses and not-for-profits which continue to be significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Notably, new eligibility criteria and payment rates apply.
To be eligible for continued support under the JobKeeper scheme from 28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021, businesses and not-for-profits will be required to show that they are suffering an ongoing significant decline in turnover by reference to actual GST turnover. To do this, they will need to demonstrate the relevant decline in turnover by reference to their actual GST turnover in both the June 2020 and September 2020 quarters relative to comparable periods (which will generally be the 2019 corresponding quarters).
To receive additional JobKeeper payments past 4 January 2021 until the end of the scheme on 28 March 2021, businesses and not-for-profits will also need to demonstrate the relevant decline in GST turnover in each June 2020, September 2020 and December 2020 quarters relative to comparable periods.
As with the existing rules, the size of the required decline in turnover depends upon the size of the business. That is:
- 50 per cent decline in turnover for those businesses with an aggregated turnover of more than $1 billion;
- 30 per cent decline in turnover for those businesses with an aggregated turnover of $1 billion or less; or
- 15 per cent decline in turnover for ACNC registered charities.
The eligibility requirements pertaining to employees have not been changed.
As it currently stands, the JobKeeper payment rate for eligible employers is $1,500 per fortnight per eligible employee.
From 28 September 2020, that rate will be reduced to $1,200 per fortnight. The rate will again be reduced on 4 January 2021 to $1,000 per fortnight for the eligible employees of those employers who are able to demonstrate their continuing eligibility.
Notably, however, from 28 September 2020 different rates will start to apply to those employees and business participants who work fewer than 20 hours per week (on average). Employees and business participants working fewer than 20 hours per week will be entitled to $750 per fortnight between 28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021. That amount will reduce to $650 per fortnight from 4 January 2021 to 28 March 2021.
Directions and Requests
In April 2020, the Federal Government introduced amendments to the Fair Work Act to allow employers eligible for the JobKeeper scheme to temporarily vary the working arrangements of eligible employees through issuing JobKeeper Enabling Directions and Requests. The purpose of these changes was to provide employers with greater flexibility with the aim of keeping more people employed. We wrote about the scope and effect of these changes here.
At the time of writing, there has been no indication by the Government that these temporary measures will be continued past their present date of expiry on 28 September 2020. As such, if this remains the case, any currently issued JobKeeper Enabling Directions and/or Requests will cease on that date.
These measures have been a fundamental (although sometimes overlooked) component of the JobKeeper scheme. Employers who might continue to be eligible for JobKeeper support beyond the end of September should keep a close eye on any announcements in respect of the continuation of JobKeeper Enabling Directions and/or Requests.