EXPLAINER

Coronavirus: Questions on the $130b JobKeeper program answered

Centrelink offices have been inundated with people attempting to register for Jobseeker allowance. Picture: Shutterstock
Centrelink offices have been inundated with people attempting to register for Jobseeker allowance. Picture: Shutterstock

What is the JobKeeper payment?

It is a wage subsidy that is paid to eligible employers for each worker who was on their books as of March 1.

The payment must be passed on in full, before tax, to each employee each fortnight.

How much is it worth?

JobKeeper is a flat $1500 per fortnight payment for each worker, for six months.

When do payments start?

The scheme has commenced and eligible businesses can begin making JobKeeper payments immediately. Funds to eligible businesses will begin to flow from the first week of May, paid as monthly arrears from the Australian Taxation Office.

Who is eligible?

All full-time and part-time workers, and casual employees who have been with their employer for at least the previous 12 months, are eligible for the payment.

This includes Australian residents, New Zealanders working in Australia on 444 visas and migrants who are eligible for JobSeeker or Youth Allowance (Other) payments.

The government is still considering whether workers on other visas will be included.

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What businesses does it apply to?

Companies, partnerships, trusts, sole traders and not-for-profits (including charities) are eligible.

To be eligible, businesses with an annual turnover of less than $1 billion must have a self-assessed downturn in revenue of at least 30 per cent since the beginning of March.

Businesses with an annual turnover of more than $1 billion must demonstrate a fall in revenue of 50 per cent or more.

Businesses subject to the Major Bank Levy are not eligible.

What if I have already lost my job?

Workers who have been stood down since March 1 are eligible under the JobKeeper scheme. They are advised to contact their employer to discuss reinstatement.

What if I have already applied for a JobSeeker payment?

If your former employer is eligible and has registered for the JobKeeper scheme, you can join the arrangement. You cannot receive JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments simultaneously.

I was earning more that the government is offering. Will work make up the difference?

Every employee of an eligible employer must receive at least $1500 a fortnight, before tax. Any additional pay must be made up by the employer.

What if I was earning less than $1500 a fortnight?

You will be paid a minimum of $1500 every two weeks.

Will JobKeeper include payments into my super?

No. It does not include the Superannuation Guarantee Levy. That remains the responsibility of your employer.

What if my employer has shut down?

If you were on the books of your employer as of March 1, and they meet the business eligibility criteria, they can register for the JobKeeper scheme and reinstate you to receive the $1500 a fortnight payment.

What if I was working in a couple of jobs?

As long as you were a full-time or part-time employee, or worked for one of your employers as a casual for at least the previous 12 months, and they are eligible, then you can receive the payment.

But you can only receive the payment from one employer.

I work for myself? Am I covered?

Yes. Sole traders and the self-employed are eligible.

How do I apply?

Workers do not have to apply.

The JobKeeper scheme is administered by the Australian Taxation Office and the payments are made to the employer, who passes them on via their normal payroll operations. Eligible businesses can register their interest and apply for payment online at ato.gov.au.

Workers who have been stood down or dismissed since March 1 are advised to contact their employer to check whether they are eligible and are registering for the scheme.

How much will the JobKeeper scheme cost?

The federal government says the scheme will cost $130 billion over six months, and will support about six million workers.

Does it need legislation?

Yes. Legislation is being drawn up this week and Prime Minister Scott Morrison has indicated Parliament will be recalled for a scaled-down sitting next week to pass the new laws.

  • For information on COVID-19, please go to the federal Health Department's website.
  • You can also call the Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080
  • If you have serious symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, call Triple Zero (000)