The government announced their third and greatest ‘lifeline’ stimulus package yesterday to help keep employees in jobs during the coronavirus crisis. 

The $130 billion package will provide businesses with a fortnightly wage subsidy of up to $1,500 (before tax) per employee in the bid to prevent millions of people losing their jobs. Affected employers will be able to claim the subsidy payment for staff on their books-including those that have been stood down-as at 1 March 2020, for a maximum of 6 months. 

Eligible employers

Employers will be eligible for the subsidy if: 

  • their business has a turnover of less than $1 billion and their turnover will be reduced by more than 30 per cent relative to a comparable period a year ago (of at least a month); or  
  • their business has a turnover of $1 billion or more and their turnover will  be reduced by more than 50 per cent relative to a comparable period a year ago (of at least a month); and 
  • the business is not subject to the Major Bank Levy. 

The employer must have been in an employment relationship with eligible employees as at 1 March 2020 and confirm that each eligible employee is currently engaged in order to receive JobKeeper Payments.  

Not-for-profit entities (including charities) and self-employed individuals (businesses without employees) that meet the turnover tests that apply for businesses are eligible to apply for JobKeeper Payments. 

Eligible employees

An eligible employee is an employee who:

  • is currently employed by the eligible employer (including those stood down or re-hired); 
  • was employed by the employer at 1 March 2020; 
  • is full-time, part-time or long-term casual (a casual employed on a regular basis for longer than 12 months as at 1 March 2020); 
  • is at least 16 years of age; 
  • is an Australian citizen, the holder of a permanent visa, a Protected Special Category Visa Holder, a non-protected Special Category Visa Holder who has been residing continually in Australia for 10 years or more or a Special Category (Subclass 444) Visa Holder; and 
  • is not in receipt of a JobKeeper Payment from another employer.  

If your employees receive the JobKeeper Payment, this may affect their eligibility for payments from Services Australia as they must report their JobKeeper Payment as income.

How to apply

Initially, employers can register their interest in applying for the JobKeeper Payment via ato.gov.au from 30 March 2020. 

Subsequently, eligible employers will be able to apply for the scheme by means of an online application. The first payment will be received by employers from the ATO in the first week of May.  Eligible employers will need to identify eligible employees for JobKeeper Payments and must provide monthly updates to the ATO. 

I have a business, but no employees

Businesses without employees, such as the self-employed, can register their interest in applying for the JobKeeper Payment via ato.gov.au from 30 March 2020. 

Businesses without employees will need to provide an ABN for their business, nominate an individual to receive the payment and provide that individual’s Tax File Number and provide a declaration as to recent business activity. 

People who are self-employed will need to provide a monthly update to the ATO to declare their continued eligibility for the payments. Payment will be made monthly to the individual’s bank account.   Further details for the self-employed will be provided on ato.gov.au. 

We understand that many of you will meet the eligibility criteria for this stimulus package. Please ensure we will be working hard to support you during this time and to provide any assistance possible for your personal circumstance. 

Check back into our News page for regular updates on the current economic situation during the coronavirus crisis.