By Amanda Curatore
Since publishing our last article on JobKeeper 2.0, the Government has made further changes to the wage subsidy scheme and announced on 7 August 2020 that it will ease the eligibility thresholds for businesses and employees to qualify for JobKeeper. This is largely due to the Victorian coronavirus outbreak that has shut down large parts of the State’s economy. In this article, we update you on the latest information.
Business turnover test
Initially, businesses needed to demonstrate they’ve met the relevant decline in turnover test in both June and September 2020 quarters to be eligible for the JobKeeper subsidy in the December quarter. Businesses now simply need to demonstrate that they have met the decline in turnover test solely for the September quarter. The decline in turnover test is still the same. That is, businesses will need to show they’ve suffered reduced turnover of 30 per cent (or 50 per cent if the businesses turnover is more than $1 billion) compared to a comparable period 12 months ago.
The Government’s decision comes after Victoria battles stage 4 lockdown restrictions. Many businesses that were starting to pick up throughout May and June have now been forced to either completely close or operate at a significantly reduced capacity as a result of the latest restrictions and therefore a revised reporting period of the turnover test was required to capture the current crisis of businesses around Victoria.
Similar revised arrangements will apply for March quarter JobKeeper payments, with employers required to only compare their December quarter position with that of the same quarter last year.
Employee eligibility test
To be eligible for the JobKeeper subsidy, employees must have commenced working for a business on or before 1 March 2020. However, the Government has now stated that for employees to be eligible for the JobKeeper program, they must have commenced work with their employer before 1 July 2020.
The reasoning behind this change, according to Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, is because as many businesses started to open up in May and June 2020, this meant new employees were hired. These new employees, so long as they are on their employer’s books prior to 1 July 2020, will now be captured under the JobKeeper program.
The changes to the JobKeeper payment for eligible employees remains unchanged since the last update:
|Date||Full rate per fortnight||Less than 20 hours worked per fortnight rate|
|28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021||$1200||$750|
|4 January to 28 March 2021||$1000||$650|
The reference period for employees regarding their hours worked to determine their tier of payment will be the two fortnightly pay periods prior to 1 March 2020 or 1 July 2020 (Reference Period). If over that Reference Period the employee averaged more than 20 hours per week, they will be eligible for the higher rate. If, however, the employee did not work above 20 hours per week over the Reference Period, they are eligible for the lower rate.
Should any further changes on JobKeeper arise, we will update our information accordingly. If your business has a coronavirus-related query, please contact HR Assured’s Telephone Advisory Service.
Amanda Curatore is a qualified senior workplace relations consultant at FCB Group and HR Assured. Amanda is highly experienced in providing workplace relations advice and assistance to clients in a wide range of matters including employment contracts, modern award interpretation, managing performance, bullying and harassment, terminations and managing risk.