COVID-19: Government Introduces ‘Sensible’ Jobkeeper Payment

Stage 3 of the Federal Government’s Covid-19 stimulus was announced on 30 March 2020.
The sensible stimulus centres on the idea of supporting employers to keep individuals employed, rather than providing support to individuals that have lost their jobs.

The Government hopes to achieve this by providing a $1,500 per fortnight, per employee, ‘Jobkeeper’ payment to eligible employers for a maximum period of 6 months.

Employers are required to pay eligible employees a minimum of $1,500 per fortnight. If they already were paid this amount or more, then nothing will change. If the employee was paid less than this amount, the employer will need to top-up the wage to $1,500 per fortnight to pass through the full Jobkeeper Payment received from the Government. 

Any top-up payment does not attract the superannuation guarantee.

It is expected the Jobkeeper stimulus will represent taxable income for the employer (and payments to employees will be deductible). The wages, inclusive of the Jobkeeper payment, should be treated as assessable income for each employee.

The ATO will administer this process and employers will be required to provide information to keep track of eligible employees, which for most businesses will be through the ‘single touch payroll’ system.

Eligible Employers

Employers will be eligible for the subsidy if:

  • The business has a turnover of less than $1 billion and  turnover will be reduced by more than 30 percent relative to a comparable period a year ago (of at least a month); or
  • The business has a turnover of $1 billion or more and  turnover will be reduced by more than 50 percent relative to a comparable period a year ago (of at least a month); and
  • The business is not subject to the Major Bank Levy.

The information currently available is scant on details as to how the reduction in business turnover will be measured. 

Similar to the earlier PAYG credit stimulus, we also anticipate the legislation to include some anti-avoidance rules to prevent employers from benefiting from a scheme to get access to this stimulus.

As the stimulus is aimed at keeping individuals in employment, it applies where there was an employment relationship with eligible employees as at 1 March 2020, and employers confirm that each eligible employee is currently engaged in order to receive Jobkeeper Payments. This will apply to continuing employment relationships and instances where staff at 1 March 2020, have been stood down, or made redundant and since re-employed.

Not-for-profit entities (including charities) and self-employed individuals (businesses without employees) that meet the turnover tests which apply for businesses are eligible to seek Jobkeeper payments.

Eligible Employees

Eligible employees are employees who:

  • Are currently employed by the eligible employer (including those stood down or re-hired);
  • Were employed by the employer at 1 March 2020;
  • Are full-time, part-time, or long-term casuals (a casual employed on a regular basis for longer than 12 months as at 1 March 2020);
  • Are at least 16 years of age;
  • Are an Australian citizen, the holder of a permanent visa, a Protected Special Category Visa Holder, a non-protected Special Category Visa Holder who has been residing continually in Australia for 10 years or more, or a Special Category (Subclass 444) Visa Holder; and
  • Are not in receipt of a Jobkeeper Payment from another employer. If your employees receive the Jobkeeper Payment, this may affect their eligibility for payments from Services Australia as they must report their Jobkeeper Payment as income.

Application Process

Businesses can register their intention to apply at:

https://www.ato.gov.au/general/gen/JobKeeper-payment/

Once the law has passed, an application form will be made available and employers will be required to register including the number of eligible employees (employed at 1 March and continued to be employed, or re-employed).

Once processed, the ATO will administer payments from May 2020 with payments being backdated with effect from 30 March 2020.

At the date of publishing, no legislation was available, so this information has been prepared from the Government announcement and fact sheet available at the time of publishing. 

NEXT STEPS

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 applications, please contact your usual Mazars advisor, or alternatively contact one of our tax specialists on:

Brisbane – Jamie Towers

Melbourne – Evan Beissel

Sydney – Gaibrielle Cleary 

+61 7 3218 3900

+61 3 9252 0800

+61 2 9922 1166

 

Published: 31/3/2020

Please note that this publication is intended to provide a general summary and should not be relied upon as a substitute for personal advice.

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