The JobKeeper Package was announced on 30 March 2020 by the Federal Government, assisting a significant proportion of architectural practices with the retention of staff. On 21 June, it was announced that the JobKeeper payment would be extended until 28 March 2021, albeit at a reduced rate. On 7 August, further changes were announced regarding elibigibility.
What are the most recent changes to JobKeeper?
On 21 June, the Federal Government extended the JobKeeper payment until 28 March 2021, adding another six months of government support for many businesses, but setting up the extended payment as two rates. From 28 September 2020, the payment rate for employees working more than 20 hours per week will be reduced from $1500 per fortnight to $1200. From 4 January 2021, this payment will be further reduced to $1000.
For employees working fewer than 20 hours per week, the full JobKeeper payment will no longer apply from 28 September, when it drops to $750 per fortnight, and then down to $650 from 4 January 2021.
From 28 September 2020, practices seeking to claim JobKeeper will be required to re-assess their eligibility for the JobKeeper extension with reference to their actual turnover in the September quarter 2020. Practices 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. The same re-assessment will be required in January to ensure eligiblity criteria is met for the December 2020 quarter.
Further changes were announced on 7 August 2020 to adjust the reference date for employee eligibility (from 1 March to 1 July) and make it easier for organisations to qualify for the JobKeeper Payment extension from 28 September 2020. This is largely in response to the Victorian COVID-19 outbreak and the inevitable impact on business.
See the Federal government JobKeeper Extension Fact Sheet or the relevant page on the JobKeeper Payment for more detailed information on eligibility, calculating turnover, and links for the application process.
What is the JobKeeper payment?
The JobKeeper scheme is a Federal government economic assistance package designed to assist businesses and employees impacted by COVID-19. Employers will be able to access a subsidy from the Government to continue paying their employees.
How much are the payments?
Affected employers will be able to claim a fortnightly payment of $1,500 per eligible employee from 30 March 2020, for a maximum period of six months. [See above for JobKeeper Extension new payment rates.]
Which practices are eligible?
Practice owners will be eligible for the subsidy if:
- their business has a turnover of less than $1 billion and their turnover will be reduced by more than 30% relative to a comparable period a year ago (of at least a month); or
- their business has a turnover of $1 billion or more and their turnover will be reduced by more than 50% relative to a comparable period a year ago (of at least a month); and
- the business is not subject to the Major Bank Levy.
Employment relationships with eligible employees need to have been in place at 1 March 2020. Businesses must confirm that each eligible employee is currently engaged in order to receive JobKeeper Payments.[Note that new eligibility criteria applies from 28 September 2020.]
Are sole traders eligible?
Sole traders (including self-employed individuals without employees) who have suffered from a reduction in income as per the above turnover tests may be eligible to receive the JobKeeper Payment.
Which employees are eligible?
Eligible employees include:
- those who are currently employed by the eligible employer (including those stood down or re-hired); or those who were employed by the employer at 1 March 2020.
- Full-time, part-time, and long-term casuals (casuals employed on a regular basis for longer than 12 months)
- those who are at least 16 years of age
- Australian citizens, the holder of a permanent visa, a Protected Special Category Visa Holder, a non-protected Special Category Visa Holder who has been residing continually in Australia for 10 years or more, or a Special Category (Subclass 444) Visa Holder.
Employees are only eligible to receive a JobKeeper Payment from one employer.
What is the application process?
Employers can apply for the JobKeeper Payment via ato.gov.au from 30 March 2020.
Businesses without employees can also register their interest in applying for the JobKeeper Payment via ato.gov.au from 30 March 2020. Businesses without employees need to provide an ABN for their business, nominate an individual to receive the payment and provide that individual’s Tax File Number. They must also provide a declaration regarding recent business activity.
People who are self-employed will need to provide a monthly update to the Australian Tax Office (ATO) to declare their continued eligibility for the payments. The Federal government has committed to making monthly payments to the eligible individual’s bank account.
When will the first payments come through?
The Federal government has stated that the first JobKeeper payments will be received by employers from the ATO in the first week of May.
How will the payment process work?
Employers will pay eligible employees a minimum of $1500 per fortnight, before tax (employers are able to top up the payment). JobKeeper Payments will then be made to the employer monthly in arrears by the ATO.