Unfortunately, because of COVID restrictions many working Victorians have found themselves stood down or out of a job completely. If you have lost work because of the pandemic, you may be eligible for either the JobKeeper or JobSeeker payments.
Below we answer some commonly asked questions about these payments and other support you may be entitled to.
What is JobKeeper?
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 to cover the cost of wages and keep workers employed during the crisis.
What is 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. You can also access JobSeeker if you have been stood down with no income or access to JobKeeper payments. Unlike JobKeeper, you must meet an income test to qualify for JobSeeker. Details can be found on the Australian Government Services Australia site.
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:
- Eligibility will be based on actual GST turnover in the September quarter 2020 to be eligible from 28 Sept 2020 – 3 Jan 2021
- Eligibility will be based on actual GST turnover in the December quarter 2020 to be eligible from 4 January 2020 – 28 March 2021
- Eligibility will be based on the following decline in GST turnover:
- A 50 per cent decline of turnover for those with aggregated turnover of more than $1 billion
- A 30 per cent decline of turnover for those with an aggregated turnover of $1 billion or less
- A 15 per cent decline of turnover for Australian Charities and Not for profits Commission-registered charities (excluding schools and universities)
Some businesses may not have previously met the threshold but now meet the threshold due to the shutdown. These businesses can now apply to receive the subsidy.
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.
To receive JobKeeper payment after 28 September 2020, you must be:
- Currently employed by an eligible employer (including if you were stood down or re- hired)
- A full-time, part-time or fixed-term employee at 1 July 2020; or
- A long-term casual employee (employed on a regular and systematic basis for at least 12 months) as at 1 July 2020 and not a permanent employee of any other employer
- Were aged 18 years or older at 1 July 2020 (if you were 16 or 17 you can also qualify if you are independent or not undertaking full time study)
- an Australian resident (within the meaning of the Social Security Act 1991); or
- An Australian resident for the purpose of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 and the holder of a Subclass 444 (Special Category) visa as at 1 March 2020.
- Not receiving any of the following payments during the JobKeeper fortnight:
- government parental leave or Dad and partner pay under the Paid Parental Leave Act 2010; or
- a payment in accordance with Australian worker compensation law for an individual's total incapacity for work.
As well as changes to eligibility, payment amounts have changed under the extension period. The rate has been reduced and a lower payment rate has been introduced for those who work fewer hours.
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.
Australian Unions are working to expand eligibility to cover more workers, including childcare and early educators as well as casuals.
Chat to your union or the Australian Unions Support Centre if you have any questions about your JobKeeper eligibility.
What do I get paid under JobKeeper?
From 28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021, the JobKeeper Payment rates are divided into two tiers:
- $1,200 per fortnight for all eligible employees who were working in the business or not- for-profit for 20 hours or more a week on average in the four weeks of pay periods before either 1 March 2020 or 1 July 2020, and for eligible business participants who were actively engaged in the business for 20 hours or more per week on average; and
- $750 per fortnight for other eligible employees and business participants.
Superannuation is only paid for hours worked. For example, if you received $1000 for work performed in a fortnight and received a further $200 to meet the $1200 minimum for tier 1 workers, 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.
From 4 January 2021 to 28 March 2021, the JobKeeper Payment rates will be:
- Tier 1 - $1,000 per fortnight for all eligible employees who were working in the business or not- for-profit for 20 hours or more a week on average in the four weeks of pay periods before either 1 March 2020 or 1 July 2020, and for business participants who were actively engaged in the business for 20 hours or more per week on average; and
- Tier 2 - $650 per fortnight for other eligible employees and business participants.
Chat to your union or the Australian Unions Support Centre if you have any concerns about your pay under JobKeeper.
How do I get paid under JobKeeper?
Once your employer has registered for JobKeeper with the ATO, they will receive $1,200 per fortnight for every eligible Tier 1 worker, or $750 per fortnight for every eligible Tier 2 worker. Your employer must then pay all eligible workers the higher of:
- $1,200 (Tier 1) or $750 (Tier 2) before tax per fortnight or
- Their normal earnings for the fortnight (for work actually performed)
Is there any other financial support available to me?
In Victoria, there is some additional support available to people who have lost their job or had their income affected by coronavirus. This may include:
- The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Worker support payment ($450 for testing isolation and $1500 for self-isolation after a positive test)
- Coronavirus supplement: paid in addition to the Jobseeker or JobKeeper payment
- The first Economic Support Payment of $750, made to all existing payment recipients and concession card holders who received their payment or card before 13 April 2020
- The Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment (A $1500 payment for Victorian’s with no sick leave entitlements who can’t work for reasons related to COVID-19)
- The second Economic Support Payment of $750 paid to the same recipients as the first, provided that person does not receive the Coronavirus supplement with their payment
Check here for more support services and to check your eligibility.
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.