Payments of $1,500 will be paid to employers for up to six months for each eligible employee that was on their books on 1 March 2020 and is retained or continues to be engaged by that employer.
The biggest piece of government spending in Australian history was backed by the Opposition, after its calls for the legislation to be expanded to include another 1.1 million casual workers failed.
The government quickly shut down any chance of further tweaking earlier this week, with the Treasurer announcing a “line had to be drawn”.
Speaking to reporters late on Wednesday night, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said: “Tonight was a team Australia moment and I want to thank the Opposition for the constructive role they played in the passage of the legislation this evening.
“At a $130 billion, the JobKeeper package is unprecedented in scale and scope is like nothing this country has ever seen before.”
As of Wednesday morning, over 730,000 Australian businesses had registered for JobKeeper with the ATO, with the number said to be constantly growing.
The government expects just under half of the working population to benefit from the wage subsidy, which commenced on 30 March, but which will see first payments flow from May.
Available to full-time and part-time workers, sole traders and casuals who have been with their employer for 12 months or more, the JobKeeper also applies to Aussies working in the non-profit sector.
The JobKeeper scheme is administered by the Commissioner of Taxation, with the commissioner said to pay the JobKeeper payment to entities shortly after the end of each calendar month, for fortnights ending in that month.
Reactions positive, but caution urged
Welcoming the news from Parliament on Wednesday evening, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) cautioned businesses from rushing their applications.
“It’s so important not to blindly go after the money without some evidence of the economic impact of COVID-19 on business turnover,” CA ANZ’s Michael Croker said.
Urging employers to “get ready and set before they go”, Mr Croker said that the reality is JobKeeper will not be enough to save every business.
Similar views have been shared by workplace relations company Employsure, which has asked business owners to remain cautious but optimistic.
“Just because the legislation has passed, it doesn’t mean a business owner is automatically eligible,” said Employsure managing director Ed Mallett.
“While it is a great initiative that is going to help thousands of employers keep staff on their books and potentially save their business, there is still the application process to go through first. Employers shouldn’t rush out and start spending money until they have gotten confirmation that they are eligible.”
Businesses can register their interest for the payment here.
Treasury guidance and fact sheets can be accessed here.