JobKeeper Q&A: we answer 12 questions from employees and employers
The ATO has extended the deadline for JobKeeper applications until May 31 as employees and business owners around the country demand more information about who is eligible.
We've been inundated with questions over who can receive the $1500/fortnight payment, so we've teamed up with JobKeeper expert Mark Chapman from H&R Block to help give you some answers.
What employees are asking
1. Is any employee casual or permanent eligible for JobKeeper?
If you are employed as a permanent employee, and were employed before March 1, 2020, you are eligible for the JobKeeper payment. If you were employed after March 1, 2020, as a permanent employee, you are not eligible.
If you are employed on casual basis, you will only be eligible for JobKeeper if you have been employed with the same employer for more than 12 months.
2. Am I entitled to JobKeeper when I am on maternity leave?
This depends on how you have been paid. If your maternity pay has been paid by your employer then yes you are. However, if you've been paid through a statutory payment by the government, then no, you are not.
3. Can my employer charge me for applying for JobKeeper?
No, they cannot. You are entitled to be paid the full JobKeeper amount without being charged. If your employer tries to charge you, you can contact Fair Work Australia.
4. If the business I've been working at has closed for the time being and I've been stood down, am I entitled to JobKeeper?
Yes, if you are still employed but you've been stood down then you are entitled to JobKeeper - but it's at the employer's discretion whether they wish to apply or not. Some employers may decide it's easier and cheaper to fire everyone and start hiring again when this is over.
5. If my partner is still working am I still eligible for a JobKeeper payment?
Yes, you are. For JobKeeper you only need to be eligible on your own terms - you don't need to take into account your partner's income or situation. However, Centrelink will take into account your partner's income for the amount you are eligible to receive with JobSeeker.
6. Are you entitled to JobKeeper if you have two jobs?
You may only receive the JobKeeper payment from the employer you nominate as your primary employer. You are only eligible once, if you work two jobs you need to choose which one you need to claim JobKeeper through and then you need to inform your second employer to exclude you from their scheme.
7. Can an employer discriminate against some of their eligible employees by not nominating them for JobKeeper?
No, the JobKeeper scheme is a one in, all in scheme. Every single eligible employee needs to be included in the scheme. However, as the above example shows, if an employee is receiving JobKeeper from another employee they must be excluded. Temporary residents are also ineligible.
However, an employer can choose to exclude employees from the scheme by letting them go before they apply for JobKeeper. For example, if you have 10 staff but only want to keep five you can let them go and remove them from your books, but if you don't take them off your books you need to claim JobKeeper for all 10 staff.
What employers are asking
1. If I have employees who are earning less than $1500, do I have to pay them the full JobKeeper payment of $1500?
Yes, you do. The money is very much a payment by the government into a business to help them stay operational and keep people in jobs and so this payment by the government is designed to be paid directly to the employee.
2. Do I need to pay super for employees on top of the JobKeeper amount?
Yes, you do need to pay super to employees at this time. If your staff members are paid more $1500 their super will still be based on their full wage.
Conversely, if your employee normally earns less than $1500 (but is now receiving $1500 because of JobKeeper), you only need to pay super on their normal earnings.? You don't need to pay super on the top-up that takes them to $1500.
3. What can I do if I can't afford to keep staff on until JobKeeper kicks in?
This week the government, realising this was an impost for many small businesses to pay their staff until JobKeeper payments start in early May, provided an extension for employers to pay their employees.
Employers will now have until May 8, 2020, to ensure those payments have been made to eligible employees.
This is critical, as some small businesses had chosen not to apply for JobKeeper because they were worried about having enough cash to pay their staff.
The government is now promising to fast-track these applications. Businesses now have until May 31 to formally enrol to claim JobKeeper.
In addition, the government announced a special scheme for businesses with apprentices. Employers can receive a 50% wage subsidy from January 1 until September 30 but this cannot be claimed in addition to JobKeeper for that staff member. It's either one or the other.
4. As a sole trader without employees am I still eligible for the JobKeeper payment?
Yes, you are, provided that you have met the criteria of a 30% drop in turnover and are an eligible business participant - sole trader, partner in a partnership or beneficiary in a trust running a business.
A freelancer is also classified as a sole trader as long as you have an ABN - you don't need to be registered as a company. This can include Uber drivers, contractors and entertainers, who are eligible provided they are self-employed.
5. As an employer, am I obliged to pay any of my staff while the business is closed due to coronavirus?
No, you're not obliged to pay them, you can fire them. Alternatively you can stand them down and apply for JobKeeper, in which case, any of the incidental costs on top of salary are still payable.