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JobKeeper payment extended to 28 March 2021

The Australian Government has announced a series of changes to the JobKeeper payment scheme, to come into effect from 28 September 2020. Key changes to the scheme include a phased reduction of the JobKeeper payment amount, payments for part-time staff to reflect pre-COVID working hours, and the requirement for businesses to reassess and reapply for JobKeeper using actual turnover figures.

The existing JobKeeper payment arrangement, designed to assist Australian businesses affected by COVID-19 by supplementing the cost of employee wages, has been extended for 6 months until 31 March 2021. The extension of JobKeeper will enable eligible businesses to retain their staff once the original, flat-rate payment of $1,500 per fortnight ceases on 27 September 2020.

The current JobKeeper scheme pays eligible employees (and one eligible business participant) a flat rate of $1,500 per fortnight. This has had the unintended consequence of many employees actually being paid more on JobKeeper than they had been entitled to prior to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Going forward, the JobKeeper payment extension will reduce over two phases, with a new two-tiered payment system designed to reflect the pre-COVID workings hours of employees:

 

Average work hours during 4 weeks prior to 1 March 2020:

Arrangement

Applicable Date

20+ hours per week

< 20 hours per week

Existing

Until 27 Sept 2020

$1,500 per fortnight

$1,500 per fortnight

Phase 1

From 28 Sept 2020

$1,200 per fortnight

$750 per fortnight

Phase 2

From 4 Jan 2021

$1,000 per fortnight

$650 per fortnight

 

Business eligibility for JobKeeper payment extension

If your business was already receiving the JobKeeper Payment, it’s important to note that you may not be eligible for the extended payment scheme. To qualify for the original JobKeeper payment, eligible businesses simply had to demonstrate a reported turnover reduction of at least 30% at any time during COVID-19. In addition to the existing eligibility criteria, the new scheme will require a more comprehensive list of requirements to be met.

From 28 September 2020, businesses and not-for-profits (NFPs) seeking to claim JobKeeper Payments will be required to reassess their eligibility for the JobKeeper extension with reference to their actual turnover in the June and September 2020 quarters. Businesses and NFPs will need to demonstrate that they have met the relevant continuing decline in turnover test in both of those quarters to be eligible for JobKeeper from 28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021

Further eligibility assessments will be required in January 2021 to claim JobKeeper payments for the period 4 January to 28 March 2021. Businesses and NFPs will need to demonstrate that they have met the relevant continuing decline in turnover test in each of the previous three quarters to remain eligible for the March 2021 quarter.

Decline in turnover test

The new eligibility requirements will mean that businesses that have sufficiently recovered since the onset of COVID will no longer be entitled to receive JobKeeper payments. The new turnover tests will require the business or NFP to demonstrate that they have experienced a decline in turnover of:

  • 30% for entities with an aggregated turnover of $1 billion or less
  • 50% for entities with an aggregated turnover of more than $1 billion
  • 15% for Australian Charities and not-for-profits Commission-registered charities (excluding schools and universities)

The ATO will have the discretion to set alternative tests that would establish eligibility in specific circumstances where the comparison is not appropriate.

The JobKeeper Payment will remain open to new recipients, provided that they meet the existing eligibility requirements as well as the new turnover tests.

Case study – Retesting turnover under the JobKeeper extension [i]

Carmen owns and runs the City Café. Carmen started claiming the JobKeeper Payment for her eligible staff and herself as a business participant when the JobKeeper Payment commenced on 30 March 2020. At the time, Carmen estimated that the projected GST turnover for City Café in April 2020 would be 70% below its actual GST turnover in April 2019. To be eligible for the JobKeeper Payment from 30 March 2020 to 27 September 2020, Carmen needed to show the turnover for the City Café was estimated to decline by at least 30%. As a monthly BAS lodger, Carmen submitted her BAS for the City Café in April, May, and June. For each of these, her actual turnover was as follows:

  2020 2019
April 20,000 200,000
May 50,000 200,000
June 100,000 200,000
Total for June Quarter 170,000 600,000
Decline for June Quarter 72%  

 

From July to September, actual turnover improved:

  2020 2019
July 110,000 200,000
August 140,000 200,000
September 150,000 200,000
Total for September Quarter 400,000 600,000
Decline for September Quarter 33%  

 

The actual turnover decline for both the June and September 2020 quarters was greater than 30%, so City Café remained eligible to claim the JobKeeper Payment extension for the period 28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021.

Business continued to improve for the City Café, and actual turnover for the December 2020 quarter was only 20% less than the December 2019 quarter, so the City Café was no longer eligible to claim JobKeeper for the second extension period starting from 4 January 2021.

Case study – Calculating JobKeeper Payment rate to be claimed

In the scenario above, Carmen also needs to calculate how much to claim for each of her staff, and for herself as a business participant. As Carmen was working full-time at the café herself throughout February 2020, she is entitled to claim $1,200 per fortnight from 28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021, as an eligible business participant.

Carmen has three full-time employees who are also eligible to be paid $1,200 per fortnight because they each worked 20 hours or more per week throughout February 2020.

Carmen has an employee, Chris, who works part-time with different hours every other week: 14 hours one week; and 22 hours the next week. During the two pay fortnights prior to 1 March 2020, Chris was employed for 36 hours in each fortnight. On average, Chris worked less than 20 hours per week for City Café. Carmen is eligible to claim $750 per fortnight for Chris, from 28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021.

Cathy is an eligible employee who worked on a long-term casual basis during February 2020. To determine what rate of JobKeeper Payment to claim for Cathy, Carmen looks at pay records for the two fortnightly pay periods before 1 March 2020. She sees that Cathy was employed on average less than 20 hours per week, so Carmen claims $750 per fortnight for Cathy, from 28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021.

Carmen also started employing Charles from September 2020. Because Charles was not employed at City Café on 1 March 2020, Carmen cannot claim the JobKeeper Payment for Charles.

We are here to help

At Apiary Financial, our team will work with you to help you manage your JobKeeper compliance. If you need assistance with registration, determining your employees’ eligibility or calculating your turnover movement, contact our office today on 07 3217 2477.

[i] Economic Response to the Coronavirus – JobKeeper Extension