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JobKeeper, JobSeeker extension confirmed

 

The Australian Government have announced that both the JobKeeper and JobSeeker programs will be extended past their initial September deadline until March 28th, 2021, although they will receive substantial changes.

The programs will continue to be targeted towards those organisations who continue to be significantly impacted by the coronavirus.

There will now be two tiers of JobKeeper payments, defined by how many hours eligible staff worked before the COVID-19 pandemic in February.

From September 28th, 2020 to January 3rd, 2021

The JobKeeper payment rate will be $1,200 per fortnight for all eligible employees who, in the four weeks before March 1st, 2020, were working in the business for 20 hours or more a week on average and for business participants who were actively engaged in the business for more than 20 hours per week, and $750 per fortnight for employees who were working in the business for less than 20 hours a week on average and business participants who were actively engaged in the business less than 20 hours per week in the same period.

From January 4th, 2021 to March 28th, 2021

The JobKeeper payment rate will be $1,000 per fortnight for all eligible employees who in the four weeks before March 1st, 2020, were working for 20 hours or more a week on average and for business participants who were actively engaged in the business for more than 20 hours per week, and $650 per fortnight for employees who were working for less than 20 hours a week on average and business participants who were actively engaged in the business for less than 20 hours per week in the same period.

As of September 28th, 2020, businesses will also need to reassess their eligibility in order to claim the JobKeeper extension, with reference to their actual turnover in June and September 2020 quarters. They will need to demonstrate that they have met the relevant continuing decline in turnover test in both of those quarters to be eligible for JobKeeper from September 28th, 2020, to January 3rd, 2021.

Businesses will then need to again reassess their eligibility in January 2021 for the period from January 4th, to March 28th, 2021. Once again demonstrating that they have met the relevant continuing decline in turnover test in each of the previous three quarters to remain eligible for the March 2021 quarter.

JobKeeper 2.0 is estimated to cost $16 billion.

The current JobKeeper program has supported 960,000 businesses and 3.5 million workers and helped 44 per cent of businesses from letting staff go.

There will also be changes made to the JobSeeker coronavirus supplement, extending to December 31st, 2020, but cutting the current rate of $550 to $250 per fortnight for anyone currently receiving eligible government income support (eg. JobSeeker, Youth allowance, Austudy etc).

Changes will also be made to means testing arrangements.

From September 25th, 2020, the assets test and the liquid assets waiting period will be reintroduced and the jobseeker payment partner income test will increase from 25 cents for every dollar of partner income earned over $996 per fortnight, to 27 cents for every dollar of partner income earned over $1,165 per fortnight.

The income free area for jobseeker payment and youth allowance (other) will be raised from $106 per fortnight to $300 per fortnight and will simplify the taper rate from a dual taper of 50 cents and 60 cents to a single taper of 60 cents. This will mean recipients are more easily able to calculate the value of every dollar they earn.

Permanent employees who are stood down or lose their employment, sole traders, and self-employed people will be able to access jobseeker and youth allowance under the expanded criteria until December 31st.

The ordinary waiting period, newly arrived residents waiting period, and seasonal work preclusion period will continue to be waived until 31st December.

More information regarding these changes can be found in the link below.

Extension of the JobKeeper Program