More than 1 million casuals to miss out on JobKeeper cash


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More than a million working Australians including staff at local councils, state governments, universities, construction sites, arts and entertainment may not be covered by the $1500 fortnightly JobKeeper payment. Instead if their employers lay them off without pay, they will have to make do with the JobSeeker payment that is $400 less at $1100 per fortnight.

The $130 billion wage subsidy, JobKeeper, which was passed by the Senate today, is a lifeline for more than six million Australian employers and employees. But more than a million employees, many of whom were stood down or retrenched since March 1 often because of government orders, will miss out.

One of the frustrations for this group is that there hasn't been a clear source of information to help clarify their eligibility. Much of the information has been aimed at employers through the Australian Tax Office, Fair Work Australia and Treasury.

coronavirus jobkeeper payment casual workers

But more details are coming to light. For example the Government has announced that employees with the Australian government and its agencies, State and Territory governments and their agencies, foreign governments and their agencies, local governments and their wholly owned corporations are not eligible for the JobKeeper payment.

If they are laid off, they can only qualify for the $1100 JobSeeker payment. The JobKeeper is 36% higher than the JobSeeker or $400 a fortnight more. Not surprisingly many employees who have contacted Money are distraught about falling through the cracks.

To qualify for JobKeeper, you must work full-time or part-time, be a sole trader or a not-for-profit. Non-government schools and private vocational education providers are also eligible. But casuals who haven't worked for the same boss for the last 12 months aren't eligible.

Sally McManus, secretary of the ACTU, pointed out 1.1 million casuals will not qualify for JobKeeper. She told David Speers on the ABC's Insiders that more than 50% of university workers are casuals.  Other industries reliant on casuals with short contracts include the construction industry as well as arts and entertainment.

The $1500 JobKeeper payment is for employers whose turnover has fallen by 30%. They need to show the Australian Tax Office they have suffered a downturn. Charities are eligible if their turnover is down by 15% or more. Companies with $1 billion turnover - and there are several universities in this category - qualify for subsidy if turnover falls 50%. The assistance is to help businesses to keep their employees in their jobs and re-start when the crisis is over.

While there are stories of casual employees who currently earn less than $1500 getting a pay rise, there are plenty of employees who will be getting much less regular income. It is up to the employer to top up their wage if they can. For example if you earn $2000 a fortnight, your employer will receive $1500 and it can add a further $500 to reach your usual salary.

The Government has clarified that employees receiving paid parental leave pay from Services Australia are not eligible for the JobKeeper payment. But employees on parental leave from their employer will be eligible. Employees receiving workers compensation will be eligible for the JobKeeper payment if they are working, for example on reduced hours, but will generally not be eligible if they are not working.

Eligible employees include Australian residents, New Zealand citizens in Australia who hold a subclass 444 special category visa, and migrants who are eligible for JobSeeker payment or Youth Allowance.

The JobKeeper payment isn't available until May 1 but it is backdated to the first full eligible pay period of March this year. One possible strategy is for employers to access a $100,000 cash flow grant to pay their employees in the meantime.

Eligible businesses can apply for the payment online, registering via

Even if the employer goes into hibernation mode over the next six months, they can pay their employees the JobKeeper payment.

coronavirus jobkeeper payments eligibility

Case studies

Source: Treasury


Self-employed Melissa is a sole trader running a florist. She does not have employees. Melissa's business has been in operation for several years.

The coronavirus has adversely affected Melissa's business, and she expects that her business turnover will fall by more than 30% compared to a typical month in 2019. Melissa will be able to apply for the JobKeeper payment and is able to receive $1500 per fortnight before tax, paid on a monthly basis.


A worker with multiple jobs, Michelle currently works two permanent part-time jobs, earning $1000 a fortnight at an art gallery during weekdays, and $1000 a fortnight at the local cafe on the weekend. The gallery has recently closed, and Michelle has been stood down without pay under the Fair Work Act. Michelle continues to work at the cafe delivering take-away orders. Michelle can only receive the JobKeeper payment from the employer she nominates as her primary employer.

As Michelle only claims the tax-free threshold from her job at the art gallery, this will be treated as her nomination of the art gallery as her primary employer. The art gallery is eligible for the JobKeeper payment. The art gallery will pass the JobKeeper payment on to Michelle, so she will receive $1500 per fortnight before tax. During the application process, the art gallery will notify the ATO that Michelle receives the payment from them. The art gallery is also required to advise Michelle that she has been nominated to the ATO as an eligible employee to receive the payment. The cafe is not eligible to receive the JobKeeper payment for Michelle. The $1000 a fortnight that Michelle receives from her job at the cafe does not change her entitlement to the JobKeeper payment she receives from the art gallery.


Made redundant after 1 March and later rehired by the same business, Miles worked as a permanent part-time personal trainer at a gym for six months earning $1200 a fortnight and was made redundant on March 20. In response to the announcement of the JobKeeper payment, the gym re-engaged Miles, so they are well placed to resume their operations once the coronavirus restrictions are lifted.

Under the JobKeeper payment he will receive $1500 a fortnight before tax. Miles will need to advise Services Australia of his income. He is no longer eligible for the JobSeeker payment and the Coronavirus Supplement from Services Australia as a result of receiving the JobKeeper payment.


Employer with five employees who all currently get paid more than $1500 per fortnight Sara runs a landscaping company and employs five full-time gardeners. Sara is paying her employees $1700 per fortnight before tax. She expects that her turnover will decline by more than 30% over the coming months and that she will either need to lay staff off or reduce their hours significantly.

As a result of the JobKeeper payment, Sara is able to keep employing every gardener at $1700 per fortnight, with the JobKeeper payment subsidising these wage costs by $1500 per fortnight.

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Susan has been a finance journalist for more than 30 years, beginning at the Australian Financial Review before moving to the Sydney Morning Herald. She edited a superannuation magazine, Superfunds, for the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia, and writes regularly on superannuation and managed funds. She's also author of the best-selling book Women and Money.
David Jones
April 8, 2020 5.17pm

Wow - I don't think this article could have been covered in a more negative way. What are you trying to achieve - a backlash against the spending?

The initiative is covering a huge number of people - including a much larger number of casuals than the 1.1M you make the focus of your negative article. You don't even mention that Casual employees that will get the JobKeeper package. Your comment "...To qualify for JobKeeper, you must work full-time or part-time, be a sole trader or a not-for-profit..." is misleading. What about the Casuals with >12mths experience at their employer. What about the Casuals who will be BETTER off with the $1,500 (eg. if their previous regular hours yielded

Mark Baxter
May 29, 2020 10.56am

All my employment is casual and I work for government agencies. I have paid tax and work an average of 20 hours Oper week for the last three years. I have received no job keeper despite other casuals working only 3 hours per week and still qualifying. It is unfair and I have yet to hear the government offer a reason why casual government employees were excluded. As usual casual workers are the first casualties.

Jackie Saxon
April 8, 2020 5.35pm

I had a full time job and resigned in December 2019.

Now I have 3 casual part time jobs. One commenced in June 2019 and the remainder in October 2019. All of these positions have stood me down as there is no work.

I am single person with no income living on my own. What package can I qualify for?

Secondly, if I don't qualify now, can I qualify in June 2020 for any package?

Jay Mu
April 8, 2020 8.51pm

Jackie, you should be able to apply for JobSeeker. It offers an extra $550 per fortnight for 6 months as well as an additional $750 in July. It think you can also receive rent assistance as an additional benefit of The Jobseeker package.

All the best. I hope it all works out for you.

Unhappy Staffer
April 8, 2020 11.32pm

What if an employer is not eligible or chooses not to register for Jobkeeper but seeks all employees to agree to reduce hours by 30% as LWOP (leave without pay) and this takes my gross pay as a part time worker below $1500 gross. Do I have any protection under the amended Fair Work Act to receive a minimum of $1500 gross? My enterprise agreement requires consultation but really our employer is unilaterally forcing us to agree to the reduced hours without any real opportunity to discuss. They even seek a signed letter returned over the Easter break agreeing to the reduction with no defined end date, such as 28 September or other date linked to an event (perhaps the lifting of a state's Home Confinement order may be appropriate).

Melissa Cottam
April 9, 2020 8.17am

I started a new job as a preschool teacher in Feb 2020 working 36 hours per week. This has been reduced to 13 hours per week as numbers of chn have dropped from 30 per day to 4 per day. My boss wants to keep staff on to continue with quality ed program. So I am not able to receive Job Seeker or Job Keeper.

Jay Mu
April 9, 2020 5.19pm

If you are part time and the business turnover has decreased by 30% you should be able to access JobKeeper through your employer.

pooja desai
April 9, 2020 11.45pm

I jay I started in Dec 2019 as a child care worker, today I have been told I didn't clear my probation period and no work from today and I have Permanent residency, I am not sure why they didn't apply my job seeker.

Help Me
April 9, 2020 8.38am

I have had regular casual employment for what I believe to be 12 months however my employer says I do not qualify... I have emails with my job offer dated February 2019, as well as completed all my online training in February. However my first shift wasn't until the 12th of March so I have been denied.

Can someone please tell me where I would find information to see if I have any grounds to fight this?? I believe my employment should commence from the offer and completed online training.

Jay Mu
April 9, 2020 5.14pm

I would double check with Fairwork Australia as a start. They could then direct you to the appropriate area.

Karen Z
April 12, 2020 1.12am

There are no grounds, employers have the decision to nominate which employees they want to partake in program, you could politely ask them to double check. Assuming you pass the residency tests, just apply for JobSeeker if they say no.

Christine Shone
April 17, 2020 6.04pm

Were you paid for your training?

April 17, 2020 10.17pm

My son is in the same position. Job offer Feb 2019, first shift March 10 2019. He was doing online inductions etc in Feb, but HR won't backdate his start date stating he doesn't qualify. So dissappointed for him.

April 9, 2020 9.13am

what if you became permanet part-time just before all this went down with the closures of business

my 3 month casual trial was over and I haven't been at the company 12 months does that mean my boss still get the subsidy for me??

Jay Mu
April 9, 2020 5.15pm

If you were permanent part time on 1 March you should be included.

Mel Leach
April 9, 2020 4.55pm

What if you have 2 jobs and your income from 1 of the jobs is effected by closure and your other job continues without effect. The one job you have that is effected by Closure you do not claim the tax free threshold with your wage but this business is applying for JobKeeper payments. The other job that you do claim tax free threshold is not applying to claim the JobKeeper payment. Can i receive the JobKepper payment from an employer that i do not claim tax free threshold?

Ant Davies
April 10, 2020 12.49am

Yes I'd like to know this too. My partner is in the same boat... partime job continuing (claims the tft) and her casual job she has held for 3 years has been stood down.

Jerusha Munthree
April 10, 2020 8.24am

At this stage you can only claim the JobKeeper for your primary job; this will be the job where you claim the tax free threshhold and are permanent part time.

If both jobs are casual and you have been stood down by both I would contact ATO and get advice.

Melissa Best
April 9, 2020 5.51pm

It is my understanding that you need to have been with your employer for at least 12 months to be eligible for the Job Keeper. Those who have been employed for less will miss out. If you are still employed then you can't apply for Job Seeker.

Jay Mu
April 9, 2020 9.11pm

I think the 12 month criteria only applies to casuals.

Kelly Banitsiotis
April 18, 2020 3.34pm

I started my casual job April 2019 where i have been working 60 + hours a fortnight.

My hours have now been reduced to 18 -22 hours fortnight. Am I entitled to jobkeeper payment?

June 4, 2020 11.20pm

exactly the same situation with u. Start work from 1st April on2019 as casual.

So do u get job keeper for now?

Diana Stockley
April 10, 2020 12.11am

What are the rules if you have worked for a company for three years permanent part time and then you leave to take up another position which doesn't work out. You are then reemployed by the first company and have been only been with them for 3 months. Does the other 3 years count towards JobSeeker rules? Or are you not eligible because you have only been back for 3 months?

Would appreciate any information on this

Jay Mu
April 10, 2020 8.27am

If you are permant part time you will qualify for JobSeeker. If you were reemployed as a casual I think the 12 month criteria would apply.

Karen Z
April 12, 2020 1.15am

The 12 months rule only applies to casual employees, if you are rehired as part time again, you are eligible for JobKeeper.

April 10, 2020 5.07am

I'm not eligible for the jobseeker payment as I am not of age and I am also not eligible for jobkeeper payment because I've only been there for 11 months, I feel like I'm out of luck here. Is there any advice on what I could do?? and will the Government lower casual employee eligibility?!

Jerusha Munthree
April 10, 2020 8.13am


You could look at the Youth Allowance perhaps?

Karen Z
April 12, 2020 1.16am

Youth Allowance

April 14, 2020 7.42am

Not eligible :/

Confused Parent
April 10, 2020 11.23am

Can an employer discriminate against some of their eligible employees by not nominating them for JobKeeper? One of my children is an eligible casual employee but has been advised that the employer will only nominate certain full time staff & not the casuals..

Matt H
April 10, 2020 1.39pm

My wife worked 2 casual jobs for under 12 months, both have gone. I earn over the jobseeker threshold so she is not ellibile. With my reduced salary and my wife not working our household income has dropped by 40%. Have we just fallen through the gap on this? With my wife being a mother returning to work, it's a difficult pill to swallow. Thanks

Paul T
April 20, 2020 11.25pm

My wife's in the same situation. She's returning to work and has worked for 7 months so doesn't qualify for job keeper unlike every one else in the shop. She doesn't qualify for job seeker because of my income. But at least we have increased taxes to look forward to despite no assistance whatsoever.

Kerry McLean
April 22, 2020 3.06pm

The JobSeeker threshold of earnings for the partner (79,762) is based on your earnings for the last fortnight not the last tax year. If that makes sense. So if your reduced salar, based on your most recent fortnights earnings, would be under the threshold then your wife can still get JobSeeker.

Kathryn S
April 29, 2020 5.28pm

Hi Matt,

No additional advice for you I'm afraid, but I'm replying to your comment as I'm in the same boat with my husband - I worked a full time 8 month fixed-term contract with a large events venue which ceased on the 31st March. I had another full-time role lined up (with signed employment offer) which was supposed to start in April but the organisation couldn't give a definite start date due to COVID-19.

I applied for JobSeeker, but my husband earns just over the threshold which left me not eligible; ironic as he would have received JobSeeker if it were the other way around and we would have been better off financially... I reached out to my previous employer where I was eligible for JobSeeker, however, they did not choose to re-hire me until I started my other new job...

Our household income has also dropped 45% with bills to pay and attempting to save for our first home... Just doesn't seem fair given the amount of tax we also pay. The Minister of Finance, Mathias Cormann, said this "period we are going through is likely last for about 6 months" and "we don't accept people are falling through the cracks" when they clearly are.

If anyone has any advice out there, please get in touch by replying to this thread.


andrew b
April 10, 2020 4.07pm

I am a casual teacher in a catholic high school. The article says that teacher's in non government schools are eligible for the job keeper payment. Can somebody in the know clarify this for me because I have heard otherwise ? Thankyou.

Lara Bos
April 10, 2020 7.08pm

We have a casual employee whom has worked with us since Sept 2018 but she took five months off and went overseas and worked in a station in the Kimberleys in that period so has only been back on the books since November. So she has been with us for over 18 months but does her break make her unqualified for job keeper? Thanks in advance!

Caron G
April 30, 2020 5.07pm

I am interested to know this also, as we have had a casual employee since 2015, however he didn't do any shifts during 2018 and only became regular hours again in August 2019.

Can anyone clarify this???

Justin Powell
April 10, 2020 10.15pm

Hi there, I'm a casual whose hours have dropped from 100 hours a fortnight to 60. Will I get the $1500 a fortnight ON TOP of the hours I'm still working? Tried researching and cannot find the answer anywhere. Cheers

Ashwin Bommat
April 14, 2020 6.05pm

Yes. $1500 per fortnight even if you make less than $1500 in those 60 hours

Judy Graco
April 11, 2020 9.42pm

I am permanent part time(65 hrs fortnight ) in a school canteen with no school am I eligible for job seeker

Kelly McAllan
April 12, 2020 2.00pm

I have been a casual nurse with the same private hospital for over 12 months. I have not been stood down but yet there is no work for me as they have plenty of permanent staff to cover all areas as all their surgeries have been cancelled. I would earn $2200 per fortnight but now $0 as I don't qualify for the Jobkeeper payments.

My husband earns $1000 per week. We have 2 children. What help can I recieve?

Nav Kaur
April 12, 2020 10.42pm

I started as a sole trader in July so its less than 12 months. Before that i was on maternity leave. Is there any advice what i can do.

Still Uncertain
April 13, 2020 7.09pm

Re JobKeeper payment: I'm a long term casual ( +2 years now) employed by a small catering company. The casuals are allotted jobs on an IRREGULAR basis, as the ebb and flow of functions come in. I read in the legislation that, to receive JobKeeper, I had to be employed by my employer "...on a regular and systematic basis..." during the previous 12 months. What does that mean exactly because during the autumn-winter months last year, I worked one shift a month but then from November through to January, I worked at least once a week (not exactly "regular and systematic")? Do I qualify? Signed, S. Uncertain!

Anna Kegel
April 29, 2020 8.41pm

I would still call it systematic if it is meeting expected seasonal needs, extra staff on hand to cover busy times is the system in place

Ashwin Bommat
April 14, 2020 6.35pm

Dear all,

I was hired on April 15 2019 as a fixed term full-time employee of the company who is eligible for the JobKeeper program. My fixed term contact ended on Jan 31st 2020 and they hired me on a casual role from Feb 3rd until Feb 28th. They offered me a full time permanent employee role which I commenced from 2nd March 2020. I am eligible for the JobKeeper program?

Shernae Gavin
April 15, 2020 12.48am

So I'm a single mum on a parenting payment single for the past 3 years and for the last 13 months from 23 of March I was employed on a casual basis but my ex-employer terminated me due to lack of work and I was given a separation certificate. I am not eligible for the job seeker payment as I receive my parenting payment which is roughly $750 a fortnight. My income that I have lost is $500 a week and I have no way to gain it back through government payment.

If my ex-employer decides to apply for the job keeper payment and still doesn't re-hire me are the required to pay me from when I was terminated or are they required to pay me at all even if they don't re-hire me.

It seems like just because I'm a parent and I'm single that I have no other way to gain the income I have lost as my career has been and is in hospitality so no available jobs to even apply for.

I'm struggling with the cost of absolutely everything haven't been able to get help or financial assistance with anything yes the Coronavirus supplement is coming in to play within the next 2 weeks but what about until then as I've already fallen behind on absolutely every bill I have just to keep food on the table and Every basic essential that is needed.

So will my ex-employer be required to pay for any backdate amount until the Coronavirus supplement is in play or because I recieve parenting payment I'm not Eligible which I don't understand because if I can work while on that payment and earn income on that payment (with parenting payment on a reduced amount each fortnight) then shouldn't I be entitled to the same benefits as everyone else or am I meet to just be told that I've lost that income and not able to gain it no matter what ? Please help me

Sandra Mick
April 15, 2020 6.59am

Single parent receiving FTB for 2 kids and working as casual receiving less than $1200fn. My employer is not eligible for jobkeeper. What should I do? :(

Sherri Martin
April 15, 2020 12.45pm

A friend of mine son got layed off 2 wks ago now they have got him back because of this $750 a wk but he has only been casual for 4mths I said they can't pay him that much how much should he be getting can't companies get in trouble for doing this

Antonia Licastro
April 15, 2020 2.35pm

I was employed with my employer as a full timer for 3 years then went on maternity leave to return to work with the same employer as a casual in feb 2020 am I entitled to the $1500 a fortnight payment?

Nathan Smith
April 17, 2020 10.34pm

Why are eligible casuals who always earned less than $1500 fortnight getting a pay increase? Shouldn't they just get what they got per week on average? Then employer can use the other portion of the leftover $1500 to pay full-time staff closer their wage. Seems ludicrous to give casuals a huge bonus????

Catherine Davis
May 12, 2020 3.24pm

Yes, I know a family member who intentionally only worked one short shift per week, approx $100 gross and is now receiving JobKeeper. Doesn't seem at all right...

Sheryl Gray
April 24, 2020 6.23pm

If I worked in childcare as a casual since October 2018, then I worked permanant part time for the same company for 8 months the I remained as a casual with this company while I commenced university working there during the school holiday, my school holiday hours are reduced due to reduced number of children to look after, am I entitled to jobkeeper?

Samantha Tuke
April 27, 2020 8.11pm

I am a registered nurse with 2 casual nursing jobs

One position is in a private hospital the other at a university

Total hrs per week 30

My husband is a self funded retiree

I have no work as no hours are available due to Coronavirus

Am I eligible at all for Job Keeper/seeker

Have never applied for help before

Could please clarify for me

Dilly V
May 8, 2020 6.50pm

I have an employee/actor who was a casual for more than year doing arts educator work however at Jan 2020 they signed a fixed contract with us to work as an actor for a play until May 2020. We applied to the job keeper to this fixed contract role as that was the role they were hired in as at March 1 and had not done any casual work in their other role since Dec 2019. The job keeper for the fixed contract role ended in May as that's when their contract ended. Are they then entitled to job keeper for their casual role as well?

Catherine Davis
May 12, 2020 3.26pm

Why is 1 or 2 shifts per week considered 'regular and systemic' and not taken into account when calculating the amount of JobKeeper? Some people are getting 600% pay rises!

Ben .
May 13, 2020 12.56pm

How does this hurt you? Someone is fortunate enough to be getting a temporary increase in income. You sound incredibly bitter to begrudge them that.

Catherine Davis
May 13, 2020 1.09pm

It's taxpayers money first and foremost so needs to be given to those most in need. There are so many people falling through the cracks who've lost their entire income. I think the system should be graded according to what the recipients prior earnings were.

Regarding what you say about begrudging, can you give a reason why taxpayers money should go to such employees (ie. those only working a few hours prior to Covid who now find themselves being given a huge amount of free money)? I'd love to see them recompensed for the actual losses and the rest of the $750 go to others who fall between the tracks. I'm certainly not bitter and don't know where you derive that judgement from.

Ben .
May 13, 2020 2.32pm

It's a stimulus payment. It's designed to stimulate the economy. The whole point is that it goes to people who will spend it.

Catherine Davis
May 13, 2020 2.35pm

It's been a steep learning curve for me with the stimulus payments and I see what you mean, hopefully it'll be ploughed back into the economy which then benefits us all. I guess I just really feel for those who have fallen through the cracks while understanding that a system flung into place so rapidly is bound to have flaws.

Ro Ve
May 17, 2020 7.33pm

Please advise.

My husbands has been a casual employee for over 12 months. He was laid off in March. The company say they are not eligible for job keeper as not enough decline in their income and I earn more than the partners amount for job seeker. Is he entitled to anything?