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JobKeeper eligibility eased for businesses

 

Today the Australian Government announced a $15 billion expansion of the JobKeeper program, in addition to the extension announced last month.

The expansion included two major changes, with the business turnover test and the employee eligibility test both being updated.

Tougher eligibility rules announced just weeks ago will be reversed as the Federal Government tries to “cushion the blow” of Victoria’s second lockdown on businesses and staff.

While these changes will apply nation-wide, it is expected that more than 80 per cent of the increased payments will flow to Victorian businesses and employees.

Businesses will now only need to show their GST turnover has fallen in one quarter, instead of two, to qualify for the extension of the scheme, which is due to come into effect at the end of September.

When the government first announced the extension of the JobKeeper program last month, it said businesses would need to show a decline in turnover for both the June and September quarters in order to be eligible for the extension of the program.

However, under changes announced today, the new JobKeeper eligibility criteria mean businesses will now only need to show that GST turnover has fallen in the September quarter, compared to the corresponding period in 2019.

These changes will also apply to the second extension of JobKeeper, which will begin at the start of January 2021.

Under the previously announced turnover tests, businesses would have needed to show a decline in GST turnover for the June, September and December quarters of this year.

Now, businesses will only need to have experienced a turnover decline for the December quarter to qualify for the January extension of JobKeeper.

There will also be changes for employee eligibility, with employees eligible for the wage subsidies extension if they have been working for their employer since at least July 1, 2020, instead of the original deadline of March 1, 2020.

To determine which tier of JobKepeer payments employees are eligible for, employers will need to use the two fortnightly pay periods to either March 1, 2020, or July 1, 2020. If an employee has been eligible for JobKeeper since March 1, the fortnightly period with the highest number of hours worked will be used.

Today’s changes are designed to provide support for businesses that may have seen some recovery in their revenues in April, May and June before the last restrictions came into play, and therefore, may have missed out on the next phase of the JobKeeper scheme.

The JobKeeper payment, which is currently $1500 a fortnight, will still reduce to $1200 for full-time employees from October to December.

It will then reduce again to $1000 until March.

For more information please head to The Treasury Website.