The government announced the JobKeeper payment will be reduced to $1,200 per fortnight from October, while those working under 20 hours pre-COVID will receive $750 instead of the $1,500 flat rate.
From the start of January until the end of March 2021, the payment will be lowered further to $1,000 and $650, respectively.
Business NSW chief executive Stephen Cartwright backed the government’s extension, saying many businesses and their staff will be relieved to hear today’s announcement.
“Many businesses are unprepared and would be vulnerable if JobKeeper ended too quickly,” Mr Cartwright said.
“Our survey showed two in five businesses receiving JobKeeper do not have a plan to manage when payments stop, and one in two recipients will need to reduce staff hours or headcount when payments stop.”
Australian Retailers Association chief executive Paul Zahra said the announcement comes at a good time as the October to December quarter takes in the Christmas trading period and the start of the Boxing Day sales.
“While at a reduced rate, JobKeeper’s extension will ensure that jobs in the retail sector, many of which are held by women and young people, will be preserved through a period that is vital for retailers’ recovery,” Mr Zahra said.
“JobKeeper, JobSeeker and other support measures have successfully provided an important boost to our economy. This extension of the program, tailored to those in highest need, will support the recovery of the retail sector — which is crucial to our wider economic recovery.”
MYOB chief executive Greg Ellis said JobKeeper has been a lifeline for small businesses and that it still bears a lot of the pain of the negative economic impact of COVID-19.
“We are still seeing impact for our customers across all sectors, most markedly in the decline in invoices issued versus a pre-COVID baseline,” Mr Ellis said.
“Last week, the number of invoices created was down by 25 per cent on average across all industries, the hardest hit being arts and recreation (-34 per cent), healthcare and social assistance (-33 per cent) and admin and support services (-32 per cent).
“The extension of JobKeeper, and the sensible renewed eligibility test, will ensure small-business owners have the best possible chance of success, and even more importantly will provide continued employment for many thousands of Australians.”
However, while the Franchise Council of Australia said the announcement provides some reassurance for small businesses, chief executive Mary Aldred said further help is needed.
“Unfair and inflexible commercial leasing issues is a theme that consistently gets raised by small businesses and franchisees as a key concern,” she said.
“Given the long-term impact of COVID-19, the FCA is calling for the federal government to also extend the National Commercial Leasing Code of Conduct, which is due to finish in September when JobKeeper was supposed to conclude.”