Pub­li­ca­tions

Job­Keep­er 2.0: What employ­ers need to know

On 1 Sep­tem­ber 2020, the Fed­er­al Gov­ern­ment passed the Coro­n­avirus Eco­nom­ic Response Pack­age (Job­Keep­er Pay­ments) Amend­ment Bill 2020 which has enabled the exten­sion of the Job­Keep­er scheme. In this arti­cle we sum­marise the main points of the extend­ed scheme, dubbed Job­Keep­er 2.0.

Employ­er eligibility 

When the Job­Keep­er scheme was orig­i­nal­ly imple­ment­ed in March 2020, it was expect­ed to be avail­able until 27 Sep­tem­ber 2020. Due to the con­tin­u­ing finan­cial tur­moil cre­at­ed by the glob­al COVID-19 pan­dem­ic, the scheme has now been extend­ed in two stages. 

Stage 1: 28 Sep­tem­ber 2020 to 3 Jan­u­ary 2020

To be eli­gi­ble for con­tin­ued sup­port under the Job­Keep­er scheme from 28 Sep­tem­ber 2020 to 3 Jan­u­ary 2021, busi­ness­es and not-for-prof­it enter­pris­es will be required to show that they are suf­fer­ing an ongo­ing sig­nif­i­cant decline in turnover by ref­er­ence to actu­al GST turnover. 

To do this, busi­ness­es 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). 

Stage 2: 4 Jan­u­ary 2021 to 28 March 2021

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 again need to assess their eligibility. 

To be eli­gi­ble, they will need to demon­strate the rel­e­vant decline in actu­al GST turnover in each of the June 2020, Sep­tem­ber 2020 and Decem­ber 2020 quar­ters rel­a­tive to com­pa­ra­ble peri­ods in 2019

Test: Rel­e­vant decline in turnover

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.

Where an employ­er is not able to sat­is­fy the above test due to a par­tic­u­lar cir­cum­stance – for exam­ple, where the busi­ness was not oper­at­ing in 2019, or where the busi­ness employs staff through a spe­cial pur­pose enti­ty – an alter­na­tive test may apply. 

Exclud­ed employers

As with the exist­ing eli­gi­bil­i­ty rules, a num­ber of employ­ers are specif­i­cal­ly exclud­ed from access­ing the Job­Keep­er scheme including:

  • Aus­tralian gov­ern­ment and agencies;
  • State and Ter­ri­to­ry gov­ern­ments and agencies;
  • local gov­ern­ments;
  • State-owned cor­po­ra­tions;
  • for­eign gov­ern­ments and agencies;
  • busi­ness­es in liq­ui­da­tion, or
  • a part­ner­ship, trust or sole trad­er in bankruptcy.

Employ­ee eligibility 

Eli­gi­ble employ­ers will not be required to test the con­tin­u­ing eli­gi­bil­i­ty of employ­ees who are cur­rent­ly eli­gi­ble under the exist­ing régime. We pre­vi­ous­ly wrote about the eli­gi­bil­i­ty require­ments for employ­ees in our Short Guide avail­able here.

How­ev­er, addi­tion­al employ­ees may now be eli­gi­ble for the revised Job­Keep­er scheme, including:

  • those long-term causal employ­ees who were not eli­gi­ble on 1 March 2020, but have since become eli­gi­ble by 1 July 2020;
  • per­ma­nent (full time or part time) employ­ees employed before 1 July 2020; and
  • employ­ees who were re-hired by 1 July 2020.

Job­Keep­er flexibility 

Eli­gi­ble employers

Notably, those employ­ers who remain eli­gi­ble for the Job­Keep­er scheme past 27 Sep­tem­ber 2020 will con­tin­ue to have the right to issue Job­Keep­er enabling direc­tions and requests to eli­gi­ble employ­ees (though excep­tions apply to stand down and annu­al leave, fur­ther details below). Such direc­tions include a direc­tion to per­form dif­fer­ent duties or work from a dif­fer­ent loca­tion. We pro­vid­ed a detailed descrip­tion of Job­Keep­er enabling direc­tions in our Short Guide.

Employ­ers are required to pro­vide employ­ees sev­en days’ notice when they intend on issu­ing a Job­Keep­er enabling direction. 

Lega­cy employers

For employ­ers who will no longer be eli­gi­ble for the Job­Keep­er scheme past 27 Sep­tem­ber 2020, any pre­vi­ous­ly issued Job­Keep­er enabling direc­tions will cease to have effect from that date. This means, for exam­ple, an employ­ee who was pre­vi­ous­ly direct­ed to work reduced hours will need to have their usu­al hours returned from 28 Sep­tem­ber 2020

How­ev­er, one notable excep­tion does apply to lega­cy employ­ers’. Lega­cy employ­ers are employ­ers who were pre­vi­ous­ly eli­gi­ble for the Job­Keep­er scheme but are now no longer eli­gi­ble. These employ­ers can con­tin­ue to rely on Job­Keep­er enabling direc­tions where they are able to demon­strate a 10% decline in turnover in the fol­low­ing periods: 

  • the June 2020 quar­ter (April, May, June 2020) com­pared to the June 2019 quar­ter, in order to be eli­gi­ble to use Job­Keep­er enabling direc­tions until 27 Octo­ber 2020;
  • the Sep­tem­ber 2020 quar­ter (July, August, Sep­tem­ber 2020) com­pared to the Sep­tem­ber 2019 quar­ter, in order to be eli­gi­ble to use Job­Keep­er enabling direc­tions from 28 Octo­ber 2020 to 27 Feb­ru­ary 2021; and
  • the Decem­ber 2020 quar­ter (Octo­ber, Novem­ber Decem­ber 2020) com­pared to the Decem­ber 2019 quar­ter, in order to be eli­gi­ble to use Job­Keep­er enabling direc­tions from 28 Feb­ru­ary 2021 to 28 March 2021.

For most busi­ness­es, demon­strat­ing the rel­e­vant decline in turnover will require a cer­tifi­cate from an accoun­tant (or a statu­to­ry dec­la­ra­tion for small busi­ness­es with less than 15 employees). 

Job­Keep­er stand down 

Employ­ers who remain eli­gi­ble for the Job­Keep­er scheme past 27 Sep­tem­ber 2020 can con­tin­ue to issue Job­Keep­er-enabled stand down direc­tions to eli­gi­ble employees. 

Dif­fer­ent rights apply, how­ev­er, to lega­cy employ­ers. Notably, lega­cy employ­ers will not be able to issue stand down direc­tions where the direction:

  • reduces the employ­ee’s hours to below 60% of the employ­ee’s ordi­nary hours (deter­mined as at 1 March 2020); or
  • requires an eli­gi­ble employ­ee to work less than two con­sec­u­tive hours on any one day. 

Lega­cy employ­ers who want to issue a Job­Keep­er enabled direc­tion to stand down will need to pro­vide the eli­gi­ble employee(s) with sev­en days’ writ­ten notice and com­ply with all addi­tion­al con­sul­ta­tion requirements. 

Annu­al leave requests

The Job­Keep­er scheme, as enact­ed in April of this year, allowed eli­gi­ble employ­ers to request eli­gi­ble employ­ees to take annu­al leave. In these cir­cum­stances, employ­ees could only refuse such a request on rea­son­able grounds. Notably, this right will cease on 28 Sep­tem­ber 2020

Employ­ers who wish to request their employ­ees take annu­al leave after this time will need to do so in accor­dance with the Fair Work Act or any applic­a­ble mod­ern award or enter­prise agreement. 

Job­Keep­er payment 

From 28 Sep­tem­ber 2020, the Job­Keep­er Pay­ment rate will be reduced from $1,500 per fort­night 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. 

In addi­tion, from 28 Sep­tem­ber 2020 dif­fer­ent rates will 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