On 15 September 2020, Federal Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg announced registered updates to the JobKeeper rules (Coronavirus Economic Response Package (Payments and Benefits) Amendment Rules (No. 8) 2020) which will see an extension of the support payment for a further six months.
The JobKeeper program has been extended by 6 months to 28 March 2021. As a result of other changes, eligible employers, business participants and religious institutions can enrol for JobKeeper during the extension period even where they have not previously enrolled, subject to satisfying certain criteria.
The extension includes 2 important changes to the application of the JobKeeper program:
- New additional eligibility tests for decline in turnover; and
- Reduction and split of the JobKeeper payments.
Actual decline in turnover test
Under the new test, entities applying for JobKeeper from 28 September 2020 must show an actual decline in its GST turnover (30% for aggregated turnover up to $1 Billion, and 50% for above) for the applicable quarter relative to its comparable quarter. This will generally be the same quarter in the 2019 financial year (unless an alternative period is determined by the Commissioner).
Entities must satisfy the original decline in turnover test as well as the new actual decline in turnover test. The original decline in turnover test has been extended to include the December 2020 quarter. This means that entities applying for JobKeeper for the first time only need to show an actual decline in GST turnover for the September and/or December quarters, as relevant, to qualify.
To qualify for JobKeeper payments for the fortnights beginning on or after 28 September 2020 and ending on or before 3 January 2021, the applicable quarter will be the quarter ended 30 September 2020 and the comparable period will generally be the quarter ended 30 September 2019.
To qualify for JobKeeper payments for JobKeeper fortnights beginning on or after 4 January 2021 and ending on or before 28 March 2021, the applicable quarter will be quarter ended 31 December 2020 and the comparable period will generally be the quarter ended 31 December 2019.
All other conditions under the scheme are still required to be met once an entity qualifies for JobKeeper from 28 September 2020. A new election is required to be made to the Commissioner to participate and notice requirements provided to employees about participation in the JobKeeper scheme.
Changes to payment rates
The JobKeeper payment rate after 28 September 2020 has been reduced from the original $1,500 per fortnight and will reduce further from 4 January 2021. The rate will also be split into 2 tiers depending on the number of hours employees have worked, received annual leave or public holiday pay.
The JobKeeper payments have been reduced to the following amounts:
For an employee, eligible business participant or eligible religious practitioner to be eligible for the Tier 1 rate, they need to have worked, received annual leave or public holiday pay equivalent to 80 hours or more during the applicable reference period. If the total hours are less than 80 during the applicable reference period, the Tier 2 rate will apply.
The applicable reference period for the purposes of this test are:
For Employees – 28 day period comprising the last 2 fortnightly or 4 weekly pay period prior to 1 March 2020. For qualifying employees under the JobKeeper scheme, for JobKeeper fortnights beginning on or after 3 August 2020, the applicable reference period will be the 28 day period comprising the last 2 fortnightly or 4 weekly pay period prior to 1 July 2020.
Employees paid on different pay cycles (e.g. monthly) will need to pro-rata the work hours to determine if they meet the requirements.
For Eligible Business Participants and Eligible Religious Practitioners – the month of February 2020.
The test to determine which Tier applies will be a once-off test. Employers must notify the Commissioner in the approved form of relevant information and nominate the tier/rate for each eligible employee, eligible business participant and Eligible religious practitioners. There is no requirement for the entity to notify the Commissioner a second time for JobKeeper fortnights beginning on or after 4 January 2021.
The amending rules contain provisions that address the situation for employees of businesses that have changed hands.
The Commissioner also has several discretionary powers, including to:
- determine a higher rate of JobKeeper payment;
- determine alternative reference periods;
- attribute certain supplies or classes of supplies as having been made at a particular time;
- specify an alternative decline in turnover test; and
- specify a modified test for certain group structures.
At Mazars, we care about the wellbeing of our clients and have a strong reputation of helping our clients navigate tough economic times. For assistance considering your eligibility and support in preparing and lodging information, please contact your usual Mazars advisor, or alternatively contact one of our tax specialists via phone or the form below:
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