JobKeeper Frequently Asked Questions
As the roll-out of the largest economic stimulus package in Australia's history continues, it is understandable that many people are calling my office to ask if they are eligible, and how the payment will work.
In comparison to other Government payments and programs related to tax, which can be highly complex, the Government has decided to make the JobKeeper Payment as simple as possible in order to get money to Australian businesses and workers as soon as possible.
We also want employees to keep getting paid by their employer, rather than having to deal with Services Australia (Centrelink). That is why we have decided to give the $1,500 per fortnight payment to your employer and then obligate them to pass on at least that amount to you.
We want to maintain some level of normalcy, where you stay employed in the role you have, and the money flows to your employer through the normal taxation system measures. We decided early on in this crisis that re-inventing the wheel and developing whole new programs and methods would be an inefficient way to get the money to the people who need it.
So the first conversation you should have is with your employer; ask them if they know about the JobKeeper Payment, and if they are eligible. Then ask them if you are an eligible employee and if yes to all of the above, encourage them to visit ato.gov.au to sign up today.
We also made the decision on JobKeeper Payments in the context of other payments and supports, primarily the JobSeeker Payment. This means that if JobKeeper does not apply to you, it is important to continue to investigate the other supports that you may be eligible for.
Broadly speaking, there is;
- a payment to ensure you stay at work (JobKeeper), and if that is not possible,
- a payment for those who lose their job (JobSeeker), as well as
- one-off payments for the most vulnerable in our community.
Below are a series of questions that I have received from my constituents which I hope will help you. This information comes directly from the Treasury factsheets, but I am hoping that in presenting the answers in this format, that it will be easier to find what you need.
At the end of the day, I am here for you. Please pick up the phone and call my office or email us if you need my support (9344 2373).
Q. Does the employee get the JobKeeper Payment or does the business?
A: An eligible business gets the money via the ATO so that they can keep paying their employees.
Q: As a casual employee do I get the JobKeeper Payment?
A: If, on March 1 2020, you had been working with your employer for more than 12 months prior to that as a casual, then you are eligible.
This 12-month number comes directly from the Fair Work Act, the standard test for casual workers who have been systemically and regularly employed for more than a year. Even if you have been working only one day per week, you are still a regular employee under the Act after 12 months.
Q: Where does the JobKeeper Payment come from and do I need to sign up for Centrelink?
A: JobKeeper Payment comes to you via your employer, who gets the money from the ATO. You don't need to do anything with Centrelink. Centrelink is relevant for the other support packages, such as JobSeeker.
Q: What do I get paid if my fortnightly income isn't normally $1,500?
A: People who earn less than this fortnightly will get a pay rise. Yep, you heard that right.
For example, if you usually get paid $500 per fortnight, your income will increase by $1,000 per fortnight.
We made the Payment $1,500 because that number represents 70% of the median wage across the economy, and 100% of the median wage in the industries that have been hardest hit by this crisis such as the hospitality sector.
The minimum required income you must be paid by your employer if they get the $1,500 Payment for you, is the full $1,500. They cannot keep the excess.
If you usually get paid more than $1,500 it will be up to your employer to make up the difference.
Q: What difference is there for me between (1) my employer keeping me and getting JobKeeper through the ATO, and (2) my employer letting me go and applying for JobSeeker through Centrelink?
A: A lot of people haven't done the maths on this, but the difference between JobKeeper and JobSeeker is actually very close. That is how we designed it.
JobKeeper Payments of $1,500 are a wage subsidy where you continue to earn an income from your employer, and so you continue to be taxed in the normal way. The final payment after tax is therefore approximately $1,300.
JobSeeker is an income support payment, which is not taxed. JobSeeker starts at approximately $550 per fortnight, and automatically includes another $550 payment called the 'Coronavirus Supplement', which people on JobSeeker are eligible for. That is already approximately $1,100, and the partner income test for this income support measure has been raised from approximately $48,000 to over $79,000.
JobSeeker recipients are also eligible for other normal Government payments, such as rental assistance and energy cost supplements. Depending on your individual circumstances, it is in fact possible that someone who loses their job and gets income support will actually receive more money than someone on JobKeeper.
This is particularly relevant for casual employees who haven't worked for their employer for more than 12 months. They are not eligible for JobKeeper, but are eligible for JobSeeker, and the final difference between the two Payments are very similar;
- a casual employed for more than a year would get $1,300 after tax from their employer, and
- a casual who loses their job because they were only there for 3 months could get $1,300 from Centrelink.
The Attorney-General and Minister for Industrial Relations, The Hon Christian Porter MP, put it this way when answering this question on radio:
"But someone who hasn't been regularly connected with their employer for 12 months, who is a casual is going to have the benefit of the JobSeeker payment which is in excess of $1000. They can also work a day or two a week and have that not affect or only marginally affect the amount of money they get. So they can still receive a parity in terms - I mean, equivalence in terms of the payments. So everyone gets looked after but by different mechanisms."
Q: What if I work for multiple employers?
A: This isn't a problem. If you are eligible for the Payment, you will simply receive the income from your primary employer.
You can't get multiple payments from each employer, but you don't need to worry about having multiple employers making you ineligible. In the case of an employee who is a casual for one employer as well as a permanent employee for another employer, you are only eligible for JobKeeper from the employer where you are permanent.
So no double-dipping.
Q: As a sole-trader and/or self-employed, am I eligible for JobKeeper Payments?
A: Sole traders and self-employed workers are eligible. Full stop. This Payment is not limited to companies. Apply through the ATO today!
Q: What do I do if my employer decides not to apply for JobKeeper Payment?
A: If your employer decides not to apply, and they have the capacity to keep paying you, then no problem! You still have your job.
If your business decides not to apply and you lose your job, you are now eligible for JobSeeker, which as the above answers show, is likely to be a very similar final amount.
Q: Why does a business have the choice to sign up for JobKeeper Payments?
A: Each business is facing different problems due to the coronavirus.
For some businesses, even if the Government provides them support of $1,500 per employee eligible, they may still believe that the business cannot survive.
This is because businesses face far more costs than simply wages. They face costs for supplies, for utilities, for rent, for insurance.
If a business has been entirely shutdown due to restrictions, they may be forced to cut costs by closing down all operations and pouring all their funds into paying off bills and debts. In these circumstances the business would be eligible for the Payment, but the Payment would not help them.
In these circumstances, it may very well be better for the employee to be let go so that they are eligible for JobSeeker, which we have established is very similar to the $1,500 JobKeeper Payment.
Q: What do I do if I am not eligible for JobKeeper Payments?
A: Apply for JobSeeker.
Q: I received the original $750 economic stimulus payment and now I am eligible to receive JobKeeper, so do I have to give the $750 back?
A: No. All yours.
Q: Do JobKeeper Payments impact other payments?
A: JobKeeper is a wage subsidy to your employer, to ensure you continue to get paid by your workplace. As such, this ensures you still earn an income which is taxable in the normal fashion, and relevant to the normal operations of child support, Family Tax Benefit and Child Care Subsidy.
Broadly speaking, this JobKeeper Payment is intended to mean you keep earning an income from your employer.
Q: Does the income my partner makes impact my eligibility for JobKeeper Payments?
A: No. There is no 'means' or 'asset' test when it comes to JobKeeper Payments.
There is a partner income test for ordinary income support measures such as JobSeeker, and we have raised the threshold from approximately $48,000 to over $79,000 to make more people eligible.
Q: What if I can't find an answer to my question?
A: Call me!
My office is here for you, to help you, to guide you on what is available, where you can go to get information, and let you know what the Government is doing on your behalf.
I am also here to hear from you if you think we've missed something or someone, or if you believe we aren't doing enough.
My contact page is here, so don't tune out, reach out.