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JobKeeper payment announced to help business retain employees

The Federal Government has injected a further $130 billion into the economy through the establishment of a JobKeeper payment in a bid to keep businesses operating and their employees in work.

Announced on Monday, the latest tranche of support funding is specifically targeted at keeping people employed and is designed to support an estimated 6 million Australians through a new business payment known as JobKeeper.

The funding package sees eligible businesses paid $1500 per employee per fortnight. Equivalent to roughly 70 per cent of the median wage, the six-month scheme will allow business to keep paying their staff.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison explained the payment would ensure eligible employers and employees stayed connected while some businesses move into hibernation. 

“We will give millions of eligible businesses and their workers a lifeline to not only get through this crisis, but bounce back together on the other side,” the Prime Minister said. 

“This is about keeping the connection between the employer and the employee and keeping people in their jobs even though the business they work for may go into hibernation and close down for six months.

“When the economy comes back, these businesses will be able to start again and their workforce will be ready to go because they will remain attached to the business through our JobKeeper payment.”

JobKeeper payment

The government explains the JobKeeper Payment is a subsidy to businesses, designed to keep more Australians in jobs through the course of the coronavirus outbreak. 

The payment will be paid to employers, for up to six months, for each eligible employee that was on their books on 1 March 2020 and is retained or continues to be engaged by that employer. 

Where a business has stood down employees since 1 March, the payment will help them maintain connection with their employees.

Employers will receive a payment of $1,500 per fortnight per eligible employee. Every eligible employee must receive at least $1,500 per fortnight from this business, before tax.

The program will commenced from 30 March 2020, with the first payments to be received by eligible businesses in the first week of May as monthly arrears from the Australian Taxation Office.

Eligible businesses can begin distributing the JobKeeper payment immediately and will be reimbursed from the first week of May. 

Eligible employers

Eligible employers will be those with annual turnover of less than $1 billion who self-assess that have a reduction in revenue of 30 per cent or more, since 1 March 2020 over a minimum one-month period. 

Employers with an annual turnover of $1 billion or more would be required to demonstrate a reduction in revenue of 50 per cent or more to be eligible. Businesses subject to the Major Bank Levy will not be eligible. 

Eligible employers include businesses structured through companies, partnerships, trusts and sole traders. Not for profit entities, including charities, will also be eligible.

Eligible employees

The Federal Government explains full time and part time employees, including stood down employees, would be eligible to receive the JobKeeper Payment. 

Where a casual employee has been with their employer for at least the previous 12 months they will also be eligible for the Payment.  An employee will only be eligible to receive this payment from one employer. 

Eligible employees include Australian residents, New Zealand citizens in Australia who hold a subclass 444 special category visa, and migrants who are eligible for JobSeeker Payment or Youth Allowance (Other). 

Self-employed individuals are also eligible to receive the JobKeeper Payment.

Eligible businesses can apply for the payment online and are able to register their interest via ato.gov.au 

Income support partner pay income test

Meanwhile, access to income support as also been expanded for the next six months courtesy of a Coronavirus Supplement of $550 per fortnight.

JobSeeker Payment is subject to a partner income test, and today the Government is temporarily relaxing the partner income test to ensure that an eligible person can receive the JobSeeker Payment, and associated Coronavirus Supplement, providing their partner earns less than $3,068 per fortnight, around $79,762 per annum. 

The personal income test for individuals on JobSeeker Payment will still apply.

“Every arm of government and industry is working to keep Australians in jobs and businesses in business, and to build a bridge to recovery on the other side,” the Government said. 

“The Government will continue to do what it takes to ensure that Australia bounces back stronger.” 

An announcement on the much-anticipated rent relief package is still pending, while the Government will also provide updates on further business cashflow support in coming days. 

In the interim, further information about who is eligible for the JobKeeper package and how it can be accessed is available at business.gov.au

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