The JobKeeper Payment is a wage subsidy designed to support workers and businesses during the COVID-19 crisis.
Under JobKeeper, registered employers receive fortnightly payments of $1500 per eligible worker. This payment is to cover the cost of wages and keep workers employed during the crisis.
The Federal Government introduced JobKeeper after a hard-fought campaign from the Australian union movement. Thanks to this campaigning effort, millions of workers have stayed employed despite the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis.
Moving forward, JobKeeper needs to be extended and expanded to include workers excluded from the scheme. The Australian union movement continues to fight to keep people in work and keep money in the hands of the working people.
What businesses are eligible for JobKeeper?
The JobKeeper Payment scheme aims to support businesses and not-for-profits that have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.
The following employers are eligible for JobKeeper:
- A business or not-for-profit with turnover of less than $1 billion that can prove a decline in turnover of 30% or more
- A business or not-for-profit with turnover of more than $1 billion that can prove a decline in turnover of 50% or more
- An Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission registered charity that can prove a 15% or greater decline in turnover.
Some businesses are not eligible for JobKeeper. These are:
- Any banking institution that was subject to the Major Banking Levy Act 2017
- Government agencies, local government bodies or entities wholly owned by entities of those types
- Companies which have had liquidators or provisional liquidators appointed.
Which workers are eligible for JobKeeper?
Once an employer has registered for JobKeeper, they must pass on the payment to all eligible workers – this is the ‘one-in, all-in’ rule. Unfortunately, not all workers are included in the wage subsidy scheme.
To be eligible for JobKeeper, you must:
- Be employed on 1 March 2020. (casuals only: must have been employed for 12 months on a regular and systematic basis as of 1 March)
- Be 16 years or older as of 1 March 2020
- Be an Australian citizen, the holder of a permanent visa, or a Special Category (Subclass 444) Visa Holder (New Zealand) at 1 March 2020
- Be employed at some point during a “JobKeeper Fortnight” (any fortnight beginning with the fortnight on 30 March 2020).
Under the current scheme, the following workers are not eligible for JobKeeper:
- Casuals with less than 12 months experience
- Temporary visa workers (except for Subclass 444 for New Zealanders)
- Workers receiving parental leave pay
- Workers who are totally incapacitated and receiving workers compensation
Once your employer has registered for JobKeeper with the ATO, they will receive $1500 per fortnight for every eligible worker. Your employer must then pay all eligible workers the higher of:
- $1500 (before tax) per fortnight or
- Their normal earnings for the fortnight (for work actually performed)
This means, you must receive a minimum of $1500 (before tax) per fortnight. If you are still working and would normally earn more than this, your pay and superannuation does not change.
Superannuation is only paid for hours worked. For example, if you received $1000 for work performed in a fortnight and received a further $500 to meet the $1500 minimum, you would receive superannuation on the $1000 only.
Annual leave accrues as normal when you are receiving JobKeeper payments, even if you have been stood down from work.
The difference between JobKeeper and JobSeeker
JobKeeper is a different payment to JobSeeker. The JobSeeker payment is a payment for people seeking employment.
You can apply for JobSeeker payments if you have been let go from your employer or if you are a sole trader, self-employed, casual or contract worker who has experienced economic downturn due to COVID-19. Unlike JobKeeper, you must meet an income test to qualify for JobSeeker.
Details can be found on the Australian Government Services Australia site.
JobKeeper and your rights
The JobKeeper scheme was introduced to combat the damaging effect of the COVID-19 crisis on businesses and workers. This union-won wage subsidy was a good start however some problems with the scheme remain.
The Australian Unions Support Centre can offer you advice on all your JobKeeper questions, such as:
- Can I be instructed to do different work?
- Can I be forced to take annual leave?
- Can my boss cut my pay and make me work my usual hours?
- Can my boss unilaterally cut my hours?
- Can I be directed to work from home?
- Can my boss make me work different hours or days than I normally work?
- If I’ve been stood down, can I do another job or some training?
- Can I be made to work extra hours?
- Can I be directed to take long service leave?
Funding for this factsheet was provided by the Victorian Government as part of the UTECH project. Please note that the information given here is general information only and is not legal advice. For further assistance, it is recommended you speak to your union.