The government has announced a wage subsidy package which will include a $1,500 a fortnight “JobKeeper” allowance for those whose employers are forced to hibernate for the next six months.
The aim of the package is to enable businesses to keep their workers on their payrolls through the coronavirus pandemic.
It is applicable to full and part-time workers, sole traders and casuals who have been with their employers for 12 months or more, and who had been stood down since 1 March.
Businesses and not-for-profits will be eligible if they experience a downturn in revenue of 30 per cent or more, or 50 per cent for businesses with annual earnings of over $1 billion.
According to the PM, support will be directed to employers to pass on to their employees. This means that employers will be required to pay each employee the $1,500 flat rate per fortnight, while the business will be reimbursed by the government.
The program will commence on Monday, 30 March, with the first payments to be received by eligible businesses in the first week of May as monthly arrears from the Australian Taxation Office.
Eligible businesses have been told, however, that they can begin distributing the JobKeeper payment immediately.
“Our plan will see our businesses large and small right across our entire economy share the load with our welfare system to deliver these important income supports,” PM Scott Morrison said.
“Our JobKeeper plan sees every Australian worker the same way, no matter what you earn. There is not more support for some as there is for others. If one person falls on a hard time, if anyone falls on a hard time, it’s the same hard time.”
The PM clarified that people can’t claim both the JobSeeker and JobKeeper schemes. He advised individuals who have already applied for the JobSeeker, and would like to switch to JobKeeper, to speak to their employer.
‘Best chance to keep jobs’
Also speaking to the media on Monday, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that this package will give working Australians the “best chance to keep their jobs”.
“From today, employers and sole traders will be able to apply to the Australian Taxation Office. The payments will flow from the first week of May and be backdated to today,” the Treasurer said, adding that the scheme also applies to New Zealanders on 444 visas.
The Treasurer opined that Australia’s wage subsidy scheme is unlike those of other nations.
“It is more generous to New Zealand’s scheme, it is broader than the United Kingdom’s scheme. Our scheme is uniquely Australian, with every eligible employee receiving the same wage subsidy,” he said.
“This unprecedented level of support reflects the unprecedented moment that we are in. The announcement today is the means by which Australians can get to the other side of this coronavirus crisis.”
Eligible businesses can apply for the payment online and are able to register their interest via ato.gov.au