The Federal Government has made some important changes to JobKeeper.
The good news is that the JobKeeper Payment scheme has been extended until 28 March 2021 to ensure more Australians can stay in jobs and more businesses can survive the economic fallout of this pandemic.
However, the bad news is that as of 28 September the Federal Government has reduced the JobKeeper payment and created a two-tier system.
The USU/ASU along with the Australian union movement welcome the extension of the payment, but until the scheme fully covers all casual workers, all visa workers and aviation workers who have been excluded due to sovereign entity eligibility, JobKeeper is still failing to support millions of workers.
We are also disappointed with the cuts to the JobKeeper payments that will leave 3.5 million workers worse off. Working people have carried the country through this crisis, and we firmly believe all workers should receive sufficient support to get through this crisis and rebuild in the recovery.
The USU/ASU will continue to campaign until all workers receive the financial assistance they require.
WHAT HAS CHANGED?
The JobKeeper payment scheme has been extended to 28 March 2021. The payment rates change during the following extension periods:
28 September to 3 January 2021 and
4 January to 28 March 2021.
JobKeeper Payment rate
From 28 September 2020 the JobKeeper payment moves to a two-tiered system. This two-tiered system depends on the number of hours worked by an eligible employee in an applicable reference period, 1 March 2020 or 1 July 2020.
The payment rates also differ between the extension periods, outline as follows:
JobKeeper extension period
JobKeeper payment rate
28 September 2020 to
3 January 2021
· $1,200 per fortnight for employees who, in the four weeks of pay periods before 1 March 2020 or 1 July 2020, were working for 80 hours or more over this four week period (on average); and
· $750 per fortnight for other employees
4 January 2021 to
28 March 2021
· $1,000 per fortnight for employees who, in the four weeks of pay periods before 1 March 2020 or 1 July 2020, were working for 80 hours or more over this four week period (on average); and
· $650 per fortnight for other employees
Businesses and not-for-profits will be required to nominate which payment rate they are claiming for each of their eligible employees. If an employee was employed at both times (1 March 2020 and 1 July 2020) businesses must select the reference period for an employee that results in the employee receiving the higher rate of the JobKeeper payment.
The 80 hours or more thresholds include actual hours worked, and any hours for which the employee received paid leave, including annual, long service, sick, carers and other forms of paid leave, or paid absence for public holidays.
If you have taken some form of unpaid leave or unpaid absence during part or all of the reference period(s) which means this is not representative of your usual work hours (for example, you were receiving parental leave pay, dad or partner pay, workers compensation or emergency service leave during the bushfires) then the Taxation Commissioner may specify an alternative reference period for you.
Can I get both JobKeeper and JobSeeker?
Services Australia will allow recipients of the JobKeeper Payment to apply for income support to ensure individuals can access income support should their new payment fall below the current unemployment benefit available.
Visit the Services Australia website to determine if you are eligible.
From 28 September 2020, businesses and not-for-profits seeking to claim JobKeeper Payment will be required to re-assess their eligibility for the JobKeeper extension with reference to their actual turnover in the September quarter 2020. Businesses and not-for-profits will need to demonstrate that they have met the relevant decline in turnover test in this quarter to be eligible for JobKeeper from 28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021.
Businesses and not-for-profits will need to further
reassess their eligibility in January 2021 for the period from 4 January to 28 March 2021. Businesses and not-for-profits will need to demonstrate that they have met the relevant decline in turnover test in the December quarter 2020 to remain eligible for the March quarter 2021.
Other eligibility rules for businesses and not-for-profits and their employees remain unchanged.
From 28 September 2020, certain employers will be able to use some of the JobKeeper provisions if they previously participated in the JobKeeper scheme, but no longer qualify (or choose not to participate) from 28 September 2020 and/or can demonstrate at least a 10% decline in turnover for a relevant quarter and get a certificate from an eligible financial service provider or make a statutory declaration if they are a small business employer.
These employers are known as legacy employers.
Under the extended JobKeeper provisions, legacy employers can:
- issue JobKeeper enabling stand down directions
- issue JobKeeper enabling directions in relation to employees’ duties and locations of work
- make agreements with employees to work on different days or at different times.
If you think you have been treated unreasonably by your employer, believe an incorrect JobKeeper reference period has been applied, or have a good reason that you cannot comply with a JobKeeper enabling directive (for example caring responsibilities), you should contact the USU/ASU for advice.
The USU/ASU is by your side through this challenging time.
If you have any questions or concerns please contact the USU on 1300 136 604 for more information.
Disclaimer: This is general guidance only and was correct at the time of writing at 23 September 2020.