Having already supported 960,000 businesses and 3.5 million workers, the Australian Federal Government has announced a further six month extension of the Job Keeper program. As many expected, the extension came with significant changes, including reduced and tiered payments and a requirement to reassess business eligibility.
A high level overview of these changes is outlined below:
- The Job Keeper scheme has been extended for a further 6 months until March 2021
- From September 2020, the wage subsidy will be tiered with eligible employees receiving $1,200 per fortnight and a lower payment rate of $750 per fortnight applying to eligible employees who work less than 20 hours per week
- From January 2021, the wage subsidy will be further reduced to $1,000 per fortnight and $650 per fortnight for part time employees working less than 20 hours a week
- From 28 September 2020, businesses and not-for-profits will be required to assess their eligibility for Job Keeper by demonstrating they have met the relevant decline in turnover test, in both June and September quarters, for payments from 28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021
- From 4 January 2021, businesses and not-for-profits will be required to reassess their eligibility for Job Keeper by demonstrating they have met the relevant decline in turnover test in both June, September and December quarters to remain remain eligible for payments from 4 January 2021 to 28 March 2021
- The JobKeeper Payment will continue to remain open to new recipients, provided they meet the existing eligibility requirements and the additional turnover tests during the extension period
For many struggling businesses the government has sent them a further lifeline, for others (expected to be around two million Australians), the announcement confirms their payment will cease in September 2020 and they need to start planning for life beyond Job Keeper.
An extension to the temporary changes made to the Fair Work Act to support the Job Keeper program has yet to be confirmed. That means at this point and time those provisions which allow eligible employers the ability to make lawful ‘Job Keeper enabling stand downs and directions’ (including reducing hours, changing duties and location of work) to eligible employees will expire on 28 September 2020. Businesses need to start thinking about what their workplace will look like following this expiry.
Business owners that implemented temporary changes to their employees’ terms and conditions without following the appropriate Fair Work provisions (including consultation) have potentially put their businesses at risk. It is very important you assess your actions to date and get the appropriate advice to help you rectify any downfalls in your process. This includes ensuring you have solid documentation in place.
For help exploring your options, or for general HR advice, contact the team at Employee Matters on (02) 8021 4206 – or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org