BREAKING NEWS: JOBKEEPER SCHEME EXTENDED UNTIL MARCH 2021 – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

BREAKING NEWS: JOBKEEPER SCHEME EXTENDED UNTIL MARCH 2021 – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

The Federal Government has announced that the JobKeeper wage subsidy which was originally due to expire on 27 September 2020, will be extended for a further six (6) months until 28 March 2021 to support businesses and not-for-profits which continue to be significantly impacted by COVID-19.

Here is what you need to know about the changes:

1.  Changes to payment rates

The $1,500.00 a fortnight JobKeeper Payment is going to be replaced with a new two-tiered rate system. This means that:

(a)  From 28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021, the JobKeeper Payment rates will be:

(i) $1,200.00 per fortnight for all eligible employees who, in the four weeks of pay periods before 1 March 2020, were working in the business or not-for-profit for 20 hours or more a week on average, and for eligible business participants who were actively engaged in the business for 20 hours or more per week on average in the month of February 2020; and

(ii)  $750.00 per fortnight for other eligible employees and business participants.

(b)  From 4 January 2021 to 28 March 2021, these payments will be revised down again for the March quarter of 2021 to:

(i)  $1,000.00 per fortnight for all eligible employees who, in the four weeks of pay periods before 1 March 2020, were working in the business or not-for-profit for 20 hours or more a week on average and for business participants who were actively engaged in the business for 20 hours or more per week on average in the month of February 2020; and

(ii) $650.00 per fortnight for other eligible employees and business participants.

2.  Additional turnover tests

In order to be eligible for the JobKeeper Payment after 27 September 2020, businesses and not-for-profits will have to meet a further decline in turnover test for each of the two periods of the extension.

In order to be eligible for the first JobKeeper Payment extension period of 28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021 businesses and not-for-profits will need to demonstrate that their actual GST turnover has significantly fallen in both the June 2020 quarter (April, May and June) and the September 2020 quarter (July, August, September) relative to comparable periods (generally the corresponding quarters in 2019).

In order to be eligible for the second JobKeeper Payment extension period of 4 January 2021 to 28 March 2021, businesses and not-for-profits will again need to demonstrate that their actual GST turnover has significantly fallen in each of the June, September and December 2020 quarters relative to comparable periods (generally the corresponding quarters in 2019).

Previously, this was a prospective test, i.e. you needed to have expected to see a reduction.

The percentage of decline in turnover required remains the same as under the existing rules, i.e. 30 per cent for businesses with less than $1 billion in turnover.

3.  Do the eligibility rules for employees change?

The eligibility rules for employees remain unchanged.

A fact sheet has been released further explaining the changes to the scheme. It provides some useful examples regarding retesting turnover under the JobKeeper extension and working out the JobKeeper Payment rate to be claimed – click here to view the fact sheet.

Please keep in mind that the rules regarding the changes have not yet been released.

Therefore, we will not know the finer details of the updated rules until they are released.

If you have any questions about the changes to the JobKeeper scheme and require specific details for your business, please get in touch with the team at HR Law for advice.

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