On 9 April, the Federal Government approved its $130 billion wage subsidy scheme, the JobKeeper Payment.
The JobKeeper Payment is designed to provide immediate cash-flow relief to entities which have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The package allows qualifying entities to access a subsidy of $1,500 per fortnight, per eligible employee from 30 March 2020 for a period of up to 6 months.
To qualify for the first round of payments in May, entities have until 24 April 2020 that to confirm their eligibility and register for the JobKeeper Payment, identify and seek consent from eligible employees and adjust internal record keeping and payroll systems to prepare for the transition.
In general, employers will be eligible to receive the JobKeeper Payment if their business meets the following turnover test:1
|Annual turnover (on a consolidated GST group basis)||Estimated reduction in turnover|
|Less than $1 billion||30% or more|
|$1 billion or more||50% or more|
Employers will need to establish that the business’s turnover has fallen, or is likely to fall, by the relevant threshold when compared with a corresponding period a year earlier (of at least one month).
For example, employers will need to demonstrate (by reference their Business Activity Statements):
- (monthly comparison) a decline in monthly turnover by the relevant threshold between:
- March 2020 and March 2019 results; or
- April 2020 (forecast) and April 2019 (actual) results; or
- (quarterly comparison) a decline in quarterly turnover by the relevant threshold between the March 2020 quarter and March 2019 quarter.
Employers will only need to satisfy the turnover test once – there is no requirement to retest turnover each month.
The Government has indicated that there will be some tolerance where employers, in good faith, estimate a reduction in turnover but actually experience a slightly smaller reduction. The Commissioner of Taxation will also have discretion to create alternative tests for establishing eligibility in specific circumstances.
Eligible employees are employees who:
- were employed by the employer at 1 March 2020;
- are currently employed by the eligible employer (including those stood down or re-hired);
- are full-time, part-time, or long-term casuals (a casual employed on a regular and systemic basis for longer than 12 months as at 1 March 2020);
- are at least 16 years of age at 1 March 2020;
- are an Australian citizen, the holder of a permanent visa, or a Special Category (Subclass 444) Visa Holder at 1 March 2020;
- were a resident for Australian tax purposes on 1 March 2020; and
- are not in receipt of a JobKeeper Payment from another employer.2
Each eligible employee must complete and return a JobKeeper Employee Nomination Form confirming their consent to be nominated and receive payments from the employer as part of the scheme.
Employers must pay eligible employees at least the minimum amount of $1,500 per fortnight in order to receive the JobKeeper Payment in respect of that employee. Employees cannot pay their employees less than $1,500 per fortnight and keep the difference.
The ATO has set out the following steps for Employers to enrol for the JobKeeper Payment:
- Step 1 – Register your interest and subscribe for JobKeeper Payment updates.
- Step 2 – Check you and your employees meet the eligibility requirements.
- Step 3 – Continue to pay at least $1,500 to each eligible employee per JobKeeper fortnight (the first JobKeeper fortnight is the period from 30 March to 12 April).
- Step 4 – Notify your eligible employees that you are intending to claim the JobKeeper Payment on their behalf and check they aren’t claiming JobKeeper payment through another employer or have nominated through another business.
- Step 5 – Send the JobKeeper Employee Nomination Notice to your nominated employees to complete and return to you.
- Step 6 – From 20 April 2020, employers can enrol with the ATO for the JobKeeper Payment using the ATO Business Portal and authenticate with myGovID. This must be done by the end of April to claim the JobKeeper Payment for April.
- Step 7 – In the online form, provide your bank details and indicate if you are claiming an entitlement based on business participation, for example if you are a sole trader.
- Step 8 – Specify the estimated number of employees who will be eligible for the first JobKeeper fortnight (30 March – 12 April) and the second JobKeeper fortnight (13 April – 26 April).
The JobKeeper Payment will be paid by the ATO on a monthly basis to each registered employer starting in early May.
Employers will need to provide ongoing monthly JobKeeper Declaration reports to the ATO:
- reconfirming the number of eligible employees has not changed
- providing some information in relation to the employers current and projected turnover.
These reports can be completed through ATO online services, the Business Portal or via your registered tax agent.
The ATO released its guidance in relation to the JobKeeper payment on 14 April 2020, which can be found here.
For further information, please contact Eugene Fung | Partner | +61 7 3338 7524 | firstname.lastname@example.org or a member of our national Corporate & Advisory team or Employment, Workplace Relations & Safety team.
- Government agencies and entities subject to the Major Bank Levy are not eligible to receive the JobKeeper Payment. Alternative turnover testing thresholds apply for charities registered with the Australian Charities and Not-For-Profit Commission.
- Employees receiving Parental Leave Pay from Services Australia are not eligible for the JobKeeper Payment. Employees receiving workers compensation will be eligible for the JobKeeper Payment if they are still working (for example on reduced hours).