COVID-19 New Release measures 30/03/2020

31-03-2020

Jobkeeper Payments

Under the JobKeeper Payment, businesses impacted by the coronavirus will be able to access a subsidy from the Government to continue paying their employees. The subsidy will be paid through the tax system by applying to the ATO. Affected employers will be able to utilise the temporary scheme to claim a fortnightly payment of $1,500 per eligible employee from 30 March 2020, for a maximum period of 6 months. The JobKeeper Payment will also be available to the self-employed.

The subsidy will start on 30 March 2020, with the first payments to be received by employers in the first week of May. Businesses will be able to register their interest in participating in the Payment from 30 March 2020 on the ATO website.

If an employee ordinarily receives less than $1,500 in income per fortnight before tax, their employer must pay their employee, at a minimum, $1,500 per fortnight, before tax. If an employee ordinarily receives $1,500 or more in income per fortnight before tax, they will continue to receive their regular income according to their prevailing workplace arrangements.

If an employee has been stood down, their employer must pay their employee, at a minimum, $1,500 per fortnight, before tax. If an employee was employed on 1 March 2020, subsequently ceased employment with their employer, and then has been re-engaged by the same eligible employer, the employee will receive, at a minimum, $1,500 per fortnight, before tax.

It will be up to the employer if they want to pay superannuation on any additional wage paid because of the JobKeeper Payment.

Employees will receive a notification from their employer that they are receiving the JobKeeper Payment. The majority of employees will need to do nothing further.

ELIGIBILITY

Employers will be eligible for the subsidy if:

  • their business has a turnover of less than $1 billion and their turnover will be reduced by more than 30 per cent relative to a comparable period a year ago (of at least a month), or

  • their business has a turnover of $1 billion or more and their turnover will be reduced by more than 50 per cent relative to a comparable period a year ago (of at least a month), and

  • the business is not subject to the Major Bank Levy

  • The employer must have been in an employment relationship with eligible employees as at 1 March 2020, and confirm that each eligible employee is currently engaged in order to receive JobKeeper Payments.

  • Not-for-profit entities (including charities) and self-employed individuals (businesses without employees) that meet the turnover tests that apply for businesses are eligible to apply for JobKeeper Payments.

  • Self-employed individuals and not-for-profit entities (including charities) that satisfy the above requirements will be eligible to apply for the JobKeeper Payment

Eligible employees are employees who:

  • are currently employed by the eligible employer (including those stood down or re-hired);

  • were employed by the employer at 1 March 2020

  • are full-time, part-time, or long-term casuals (a casual employed on a regular basis for longer than 12 months as at 1 March 2020)

  • are at least 16 years of age

  • are an Australian citizen, the holder of a permanent visa, a Protected Special Category Visa Holder, a non-protected Special Category Visa Holder who has been residing continually in Australia for 10 years or more, or a Special Category (Subclass 444) Visa Holder

  • are not in receipt of a JobKeeper Payment from another employer.

  • If your employees receive the JobKeeper Payment, this may affect their eligibility for payments from Services Australia as they must report their JobKeeper Payment as income.

HOW TO APPLY          

Businesses with employees

  • Initially, employers can register their interest in applying for the JobKeeper Payment via The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) from 30 March 2020.

  • Subsequently, eligible employers will be able to apply for the scheme by means of an online application. The first payment will be received by employers from the ATO in the first week of May.

  • Eligible employers will need to identify eligible employees for JobKeeper Payments and must provide monthly updates to the ATO.

  • Participating employers will be required to ensure eligible employees will receive, at a minimum, $1,500 per fortnight, before tax.

  • It will be up to the employer if they want to pay superannuation on any additional wage paid because of the JobKeeper Payment.

Businesses without employees

  • Businesses without employees, such as the self-employed, can register their interest in applying for JobKeeper Payment via The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) from 30 March 2020.

  • Businesses without employees will need to provide an ABN for their business, nominate an individual to receive the payment and provide that individual’s Tax File Number and provide a declaration as to recent business activity.

  • People who are self-employed will need to provide a monthly update to the ATO to declare their continued eligibility for the payments. Payment will be made monthly to the individual’s bank account.

Jobseeker Payments

The Government is temporarily expanding eligibility to income support payments and establishing a new, time-limited Coronavirus supplement to be paid at a rate of $550 per fortnight. This supplement will be paid to both existing and new recipients of the eligible payment categories. These changes will apply for the next six months.

People will not be permitted to access, and will need to declare that they are not accessing JobKeeper Payments, employer entitlements (such as annual leave and/or sick leave) or Income Protection Insurance, at the same time as receiving Jobseeker Payment and Youth Allowance Jobseeker under these arrangements.

Anyone who is eligible for the Coronavirus supplement will receive the full rate of the supplement of $550 per fortnight commencing from 27 April 2020. Expanded access for payments and faster claims processing will commence from 25 March 2020.

The income support payment categories eligible to receive the Coronavirus supplement are:

  • Jobseeker Payment1 (and all payments progressively transitioning to JobSeeker Payment; those currently receiving Partner Allowance, Widow Allowance, Sickness Allowance and Wife Pension)

  • Youth Allowance

  • Parenting Payment (Partnered and Single)

  • Austudy

  • ABSTUDY (Living Allowance)

  • Farm Household Allowance

  • Special Benefit recipients

For the period of the Coronavirus supplement, there will be expanded access to the income support payments listed above.

  • Expanded access: Jobseeker Payment and Youth Allowance Jobseeker criteria will provide payment access for permanent employees who are stood down or lose their employment; sole traders; the self-employed; casual workers; and contract workers who meet the income tests as a result of the economic downturn due to the Coronavirus. This could also include a person required to care for someone who is affected by the Coronavirus.

  • Relaxed Partner Income Test: The partner income tet will be relaxed to ensure that an eligible person can receive JobSeeker Payment (and associated Coronavirus Supplement) where their partner earns less than $3068 per fortnight (around $79762 per annum)

  • Reduced means testing: Asset testing for JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance and Parenting Payment will be waived for the period of the Coronavirus supplement. Income testing will still apply to the person’s other payments, consistent with current arrangements.

  • Reduced waiting times:

    • The one-week Ordinary Waiting Period has already been waived.

    • To further accelerate access to payments, the Liquid Asset test Waiting Period (LAWP) and the Seasonal Work Preclusion Period (SWPP) will also be waived for recipients eligible for the Coronavirus supplement. : People currently serving a LAWP will no longer need to serve that waiting period.

    • The Newly Arrived Residents Waiting Period (NARWP) will be temporarily waived for recipients eligible for the Coronavirus supplement. When the Coronavirus supplement ceases, those people that were serving a NARWP will continue to serve the remainder of their waiting period, though the time the person was receiving the Coronavirus supplement will count towards their NARWP. Residency requirements still apply.

    • All income testing, Income Maintenance Periods and Compensation Preclusion Periods will continue to apply.

From 20 March 2020, Sickness Allowance was closed to new entrants and was replaced by the JobSeeker Payment. This does not mean that people who previously may have been eligible for Sickness Allowance are now unable to access income support. JobSeeker Payment better accommodates individual circumstances, including assisting people who are sick or bereaved.

Faster claim process

Accelerated claim process: To ensure timely access to payments, new applicants are encouraged to claim online. If applicants do not have internet access, they can claim over the phone.

  • From April 2020, Services Australia will allow new applicants to call to verify their identity to reduce the need to visit a Services Australia office.

  • To claim online, people who do not already deal with Services Australia will need to set up their myGov account, call to verify their identity, and get a link to their Centrelink online account.

  • Applicants for Jobseeker Payment and Youth Allowance Jobseeker will:

  • Make an initial declaration about their identity, residency status, income and that they have been made redundant, or had their hours reduced (including to zero) as a result of the Coronavirus.

  • In the case of sole traders and the self-employed, applicants will make a declaration that their business has been suspended or had turnover reduced significantly.

    • Applicants may also declare the amount of rent they pay in this declaration to qualify for Rent Assistance.

    • Services Australia has effective measures in place to detect those seeking to defraud the social security system. Anyone fraudulently claiming a payment will need to pay the money back and may face legal action.

Streamlined application process: A number of simplified arrangements will be put in place to make it easier to claim, including removing the requirements for:

  • Employment Separation Certificates, proof of rental arrangements and verification of relationship status;

  • JobSeeker Classification Instrument assessment for those people who have recently left jobs, recognising they are job ready; and

  • Jobseekers to make an appointment with an employment service provider before they can be paid.

Flexible Jobseeking arrangements

Those receiving Jobseeker Payment have an obligation to actively look for work or build their skills, but the Government is making sure this can be done flexibly and safely.

  • Jobseekers who have caring responsibilities, or who need to self-isolate, are able to seek an exemption from their mutual obligation requirements without the need for medical evidence.

  • Activities can be rescheduled if the jobseeker is unable to attend as a result of the Coronavirus. Job Plans will be adjusted to a default requirement of four job searches a month (or one a week).

Mutual obligations can be tailored for each individual to suit not only their needs but also the needs of the community. In some circumstances, jobseekers can undertake training or volunteer within their community to meet their mutual obligation requirements.

Sole traders that become eligible for the Jobseeker Payment will automatically meet their mutual obligation requirements during this period by continuing to develop and sustain their business.

Jobseekers are encouraged to stay job ready, connected to their employment services provider and up to date on potential job opportunities in their local area.

These changes ensure that jobseekers can reliably access income support, safely look for work, fill critical vacancies as they emerge, develop their skills and job preparedness, contribute to their community and help the economy to bounce back stronger.

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Q & A

Q: I am a sole trader contracting full-time, my workplace has now been closed due to Covid-19 and I have applied for the Jobseeker payments with Centrelink. Am I eligible for the JobKeeper Payments?

A: Yes, if you meet the eligibility criteria you will be able to apply for the JobKeeper payments as you are self-employed to receive $1500 per fortnight. However, you cannot access both benefits and will have to advise Centrelink of your intention as the JobKeeper payment is classified as income.

Q: Jobseeker Payments vs Jobkeeper Payments. I am eligible for both payments, can I choose which one is most beneficial to me.

A: Yes you have the ability to choose whichever option is most beneficial to you. Use the above information alongside your own research to make your decision.

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Queensland Government’s $500 million COVID-19 Jobs Support Loan scheme 

Applications are now open for the Queensland Government’s $500 million COVID-19 Jobs Support Loan scheme. This scheme is for Queensland businesses and non-profit organisations financially affected by COVID-19 to retain employees and maintain their operations.

Low interest loans of up to $250,000 are available to assist with carry-on expenses such as employee wages, rent and rates and other related expenditure. Eligible business types include sole traders, partnerships, private and public companies and Trusts.

All COVID-19 Jobs Support Loans will be provided for a term of 10 years, with no repayments or interest charged for the first year, followed by two years of interest only payments. Principal and interest repayments will commence from the third year for the remainder of the loan term.

Loan features

  • $500 million loan scheme

  • Maximum loan up to $250,000

  • No repayments or interest charged for the first year

  • Plus two years interest only

  • 5% fixed interest rate

  • 10-year term of loan

  • Open until 25 September 2020 or until funding is fully committed.

To successfully apply online, have ready your

  • Business Financial Statements for 2017-18 and 2018-19

  • Including Profit and Loss Statement, Balance Sheet and depreciation schedules

  • Financials must be provided for the applicant entity

  • Personal Taxation Returns for 2017-18 and 2018-19

  • Returns for all associated individuals as prepared by your accountant

  • Bank Account Information

  • Please provide account balances for all business loan and credit accounts. This may be copies of your most recent bank statements or information obtained from your internet banking platform.

  • Australian Tax Office (ATO) Integrated Client Account Statement

  • Copy of the ATO Integrated Client Account Statement (for 12 months to the date of application) for the applicant/each member and all associated entities.

  • Aged list of debtors and creditors at time of application

  • Applicant Identification

  • QRIDA is required to adequately identify loan applicants. Please include copies of at least two of the following

  • identification documents: Australian Driver’s Licence, Australian or international Passport, Medicare Card.

  • Organisation Constitution or Rules of Association and Certificate of Incorporation (if applying as a non-profit organisation)

  • Trust Deed (if applying as a trust).

Hold on eviction for renters 

The Prime Minister has announced new measures to help renters. Evictions will be put on hold over the next 6 months for commercial and residential tenancies in financial distress, who are unable to meet their commitments due to the impact of the coronavirus.

The Australian Government, together with the states and territories have agreed on a common set of principles:

  • a short term, temporary moratorium on eviction for non-payment of rent to be applied across commercial tenancies impacted by severe rental distress due to coronavirus

  • tenants and landlords are encouraged to agree on rent relief or temporary amendments to the lease

  • the reduction or waiver of rental payment for a defined period for impacted tenants

  • the ability for tenants to terminate leases and/or seek mediation or conciliation on the grounds of financial distress

  • commercial property owners should ensure that any benefits received in respect of their properties should also benefit their tenants in proportion to the economic impact caused by coronavirus

  • landlords and tenants not significantly affected by coronavirus are expected to honour their lease and rental agreements

  • cost-sharing or deferral of losses between landlords and tenants, with Commonwealth, state and territory governments, local government and financial institutions to consider mechanisms to provide assistance

Commercial tenants, landlords and financial institutions are encouraged to talk about short term agreements.

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