Australia: Extension of and changes to JobKeeper program (COVID-19)
Australia: Extension of and changes to JobKeeper
The government announced extensions of and changes to the JobKeeper program—established to provide employment-related relief in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic—with means testing to be reintroduced for the JobSeeker payment.
As noted in a government release, the JobKeeper payment will be extended for eligible employers until 28 March 2021. A two-tiered payment system will be introduced from 28 September 2020.
It is expected that legislative instruments giving effect to these announcements will be gazetted later in the year. Accordingly, the existing JobKeeper payment will remain in place until 27 September 2020.
Beginning 28 September 2020, the JobKeeper payment will be targeted to employers that have been most significantly affected; the payment rates will be stepped-down, and two tiers of payment will be introduced.
Thus, there will be two key differences from the version that it supersedes: a two-tiered payment structure, and a further and ongoing requirement for the employer to demonstrate that its goods and services tax (GST) turnover has declined.
The government will also extend the payment period of the COVID-19 supplement payment for individuals on “income support” with the period extended from 25 September 2020 to 31 December 2020 but at a reduced rate of $250* per fortnight.
Beginning 25 September 2020, the assets test and the liquid assets waiting period will be reintroduced. The JobSeeker payment partner income test will also increase.
Businesses that are currently eligible for JobKeeper payments need to:
- Verify the accuracy of their February payroll data, as hours worked during this month will determine the level of JobKeeper payment from October
- Determine whether they have met the decline in turnover test for the June 2020 quarter (this is part of the determination of whether the business may continue to be eligible after 27 September 2020)
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