Update: Changes to JobKeeper Scheme
24 July 2020
IN BRIEF: Following a Treasury review and community pressure, the Australian Government has this week announced highly anticipated changes to the JobKeeper scheme.
Changes announced on Tuesday include extending the program from the initial end date of 27 September 2020 to run for an additional 6 months until 28 March 2021 and reducing the flat rate of payments.
From 28 September, payments will be made in two tiers based on the number of hours that employees worked before the pandemic.
The current flat rate payment of $1,500 per fortnight will be replaced with a tapered system.
For eligible employees who worked 20 hours or more per week before 1 March 2020, payments will be reduced to $1,200 per fortnight from 28 September, and then drop again to $1,000 per fortnight from 4 January 2021.
For those eligible employees who worked less than 20 hours a week before 1 March 2020, payments will be reduced to $750 a fortnight from 28 September and then $650 a fortnight from 4 January until 28 March 2021.
Businesses and not-for-profits will be required to nominate which payment rate they are claiming for each of their eligible employees.
Eligibility – Turnover Test
The extension also means employers will need to reapply the turnover test at certain stages.
While the eligibility criteria for JobKeeper has not changed for employees, businesses and not-for-profits will have to reassess their eligibility based on GST turnover in the June and September quarters of 2020. Businesses and not-for-profits should be able to assess their eligibility based on their Business Activity Statement (BAS).
Religious institutions will still be eligible if they meet existing eligibility requirements as well as the additional turnover tests.
Temporary Changes to Fair Work Act 2009 (FW Act)
As CCER previously advised members, temporary changes have been made to the FW Act for a six-month period ending on 28 September 2020.
The changes include temporary amendments to the FW Act which allow eligible employers under the JobKeeper scheme, to pay employees the minimum $1,500 a fortnight JobKeeper payment without breaching awards, enterprise agreements or a contract of employment. There is greater flexibility for employers to change employees’ hours, duties, days and location with the Fair Work Commission given the power to hear and arbitrate any disputes.
At this stage, the FW Act JobKeeper provisions are still scheduled to end on 28 September 2020. When this happens, any directions or agreements made under them will also end. Employees’ terms and conditions will revert back to what they were without the directions or agreements in place.
CCER will keep members advised if there is any extension of these temporary arrangements or further changes to the FW Act.
Disclaimer: CCER does not give legal advice and this information should not be taken as such.