Easy explainer: Am I eligible for JobKeeper?

 

 

Wage subsidies worth $130 billion will soon flow to workers around Australia as the federal government scrambles to save six million jobs.

Federal parliament ticked off on the historic JobKeeper scheme on Wednesday night, paving the way for $1500-a-fortnight payments for coronavirus-hit employees.

The Australian Taxation Office will give businesses with a 30 per cent fall in turnover due to coronavirus $1500 for each worker a fortnight, with payments expected to reach employers in the first week of May.

Coronavirus-hit employees will receive $1500-a-fortnight in payments. Picture: Sam Ruttyn
Coronavirus-hit employees will receive $1500-a-fortnight in payments. Picture: Sam Ruttyn

For companies with a turnover of $1 billion, a 50 per cent downturn will be needed to qualify.

More than 730,000 businesses have registered for the program, which will give out money for wages paid from March 30, since it was announced last week. All full-time and part-time workers are eligible, along with casuals that have a 12-month link to their employer, sole traders and New Zealanders on 444 visas.

 

 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the government had responded to the coronavirus crisis with the biggest economic lifeline in the nation's history. "JobKeeper will keep Australians in jobs and it will keep the businesses that employ them in business, both now and into the future," he said. Labor is concerned that more than two million casuals and temporary migrant workers will miss out on JobKeeper.

The government has responded to the coronavirus crisis with the biggest economic lifeline in the nation’s history. Picture: John Grainger
The government has responded to the coronavirus crisis with the biggest economic lifeline in the nation’s history. Picture: John Grainger

Despite the government rejecting amendments to the bill, the opposition still supported the package.

"Never let the perfect be the enemy of the good," Labor leader Anthony Albanese said.

The massive wage subsidy scheme is part of $320 billion in federal spending designed to shield Australia from the coronavirus sledgehammer. While parliament isn't due to sit again until August, a new Senate select committee has been established to scrutinise the record spending. Labor frontbencher Katy Gallagher will chair the wide-ranging inquiry. The committee will have three Labor senators, two government, one from the Greens and independent Jacqui Lambie.

 

 

HOW DOES THE JOBKEEPER PAYMENT WORK?

Businesses will receive $1500 every fortnight for all employees over six months. Employers will be legally obligated to pass the money on to their workers.

 

WHO HANDS OUT THE PAYMENTS?

The Australian Taxation Office will administer the payments, which are worth $130 billion. The scheme is designed to maintain links between bosses and workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

HOW MANY JOBS ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?

An estimated six million jobs could be saved. Changes to the Fair Work Act will allow employers to reduce people's pay to $1500 a fortnight, provided hours are adjusted accordingly. The Fair Work Commission will be able to resolve disputes.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE?

All full-time and part-time employees, along with casuals with a one-year link to their employer. Sole traders and New Zealanders on 444 working visas are also included.

WHAT ABOUT BUSINESSES?

Businesses with at least a 30 per cent hit to turnover because of coronavirus. If a company's turnover is more than $1 billion, a 50 per cent downturn is required. Charities with a 15 per cent drop in turnover will be included.

WHAT IF I EARN LESS THAN THE PAYMENT?

Workers who normally earn less than $1500 a fortnight will still receive the full subsidy.

WHAT HAPPENED IN PARLIAMENT?

A scaled-down group of MPs and senators backed the JobKeeper scheme, with a series of bills passing both chambers of parliament on Wednesday.

DID LABOR'S CHANGES GO THROUGH?

Labor tried to change the package to include temporary migrant workers and casuals not covered. But the amendments failed in the lower house, prompting Labor to accept the bills as they were presented. Greens and Centre Alliance centre tried to make changes to help charities, migrants and casuals but Labor voted against them after promising not to create a deadlock.

 

Originally published as Easy explainer: Am I eligible for JobKeeper?