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Ai Group have answered thousands of questions about the JobKeeper scheme since it was introduced. Here are some answers to our most frequently asked questions. 

The following content is based on information available at the time of publishing and does not constitute legal advice. 

2 October update: Some answers have been updated to reflect that the JobKeeper 2.0 period has started

What is the JobKeeper Payment scheme?

The JobKeeper Payment is a payment made to eligible businesses and not-for-profits affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to support them in retaining employees.

The initial JobKeeper Payment scheme  paid eligible employers a wage subsidy of $1,500 per fortnight for each eligible employee from 30 March 2020  until 28 September 2020.

From 28 September, the federal government has announced an extension to the JobKeeper scheme that will operate until 28 March 2021. 

Where an employee’s total pay is less than the JobKeeper payment amount per fortnight (before tax), for example because the employee has been stood down, the employer must provide the employee at least the JobKeeper amount per fortnight (before tax). Where an employee earns more than the Jobkeeper payment amount per fortnight, employers can use the payment as a partial reimbursement of the employee's wages. 

The JobKeeper payment amount from 30 March 2020 to 28 September 2020 is $1,500 per fortnight. The amount will be scaled down under the extended JobKeeper arrangements that will continue beyond 28 September 2020.

What will be the amount of JobKeeper payments after 28 September 2020? 

From 28 September 2020, the way JobKeeper will be paid on a two-tiered system of payment. The tier 1 rate of pay will apply to employees who were working an average of at least 20 hours per week in the four weeks before 1 March 2020 or 1 July 2020. The tier 2 rate will apply to all other employees.

The amount of JobKeeper payments will reduce for the fortnights commencing on 28 September 2020, and will further reduce for the fortnights commencing 4 January 2021 until the JobKeeper scheme ends on 28 March 2021.

The rates of pay announced by the government are set out in the table below:

  Tier 1 Tier 2
28 Sep 2020 - 3 Jan 2021 $1,200 per fortnight $750 per fortnight
4 Jan 2020 - 28 Mar 2020 $1,000 per fortnight $650 per fortnight

 

Ai Group's JobKeeper 2.0 Payment Notification Letter can be used by employers to notify eligible employees of the updated rates of pay and eligibility during the extended JobKeeper period.

Who is an eligible employer? 

Employers will be eligible for the JobKeeper Payment on behalf of their employees if:

  • their business has a turnover of less than $1 billion and their turnover has fallen, or is likely to fall by 30 per cent or more; or 
  • their business has a turnover of $1 billion or more (or is part of a consolidated group with turnover of $1 billion or more) and their turnover has fallen, or is likely to fall by 50 per cent or more; 
  • the business is not subject to the Major Bank Levy; and
  • the business has not declared bankruptcy or is under liquidation.

To continue to be eligible under the extended JobKeeper period commencing 28 September 2020, an employer is required to demonstrate that its turnover has fallen by the required amount (i.e. 30% or 50%) in the September 2020 quarter or the December 2020 quarter compared to the corresponding period in the previous year. 

Note that employers that are no longer eligible to receive JobKeeper Payments, but continue to have a certified reduction in turnover of at least 10% may use most of the JobKeeper enabled directions in relation to hours of work, location of work and work duties.  

See What changes have there been to the Fair Work Act because of the JobKeeper scheme? below or our Member Advice NAT 083/20 – Extension of the Fair Work Act provisions which support the operation of the JobKeeper scheme for more details about JobKeeper enabling directions.

Who is an eligible employee?

Most importantly, an eligible employee is someone who is employed by an eligible employer. If employed by an eligible employer to be eligible for the JobKeeper Payment an employee must be:

  • working in a full-time or part-time capacity or be a long-term casuals (those who have been employed on a regular and systematic basis for at least 12 months as at 1 July 2020). However, long-term casual employees cannot be eligible if they are also employed on a permanent basis by another employer.;
  • be at least 16 years old (except for full-time students who are 17 years old and younger and are not financially independent);
  • employed by the employer at 1 July 2020 and still be employed; 
  • a resident for Australian tax purposes on 1 July 2020; and 
  • an Australian citizen, the holder of a permanent visa, or a Special Category (Subclass 444) Visa Holder at 1 July 2020.

Employees who met the above requirements at 1 March 2020 continue to be eligible employees.

Eligible employees must also complete a 'JobKeeper payment – employee nomination notice' acknowledging that they wish to be nominated by their employer in their JobKeeper application. The form is available on the Australian Tax Office (ATO) website. A casual employee may not nominate with an employer if they are also employed by another employer on a permanent basis.

Ai Group's JobKeeper Payment Notification Letter can be used by employers to notify eligible employees of their intention to access the JobKeeper Payment and prompt them to complete the JobKeeper payment – employee nomination notice.

Please see our member advice NAT 073/20 – Updated Information: Changes to JobKeeper from August  for further information. 

Please see our member advice NAT 040/20 – Updated Advice – Australian Government JobKeeper scheme: Eligibility and structure, the ATO website and the Treasury Fact Sheets and FAQs for further information.

How will a decline in turnover be assessed?

Most businesses will use the basic test where a comparable period in the 2019 financial year will be used to benchmark the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the turnover of the business to see if it has decreased by 30% (or other relevant percentage). 

The Treasury Fact Sheets and FAQs contain the following guidance on the basic test for turnover:

To establish that a business or not-for-profit has, or is likely to, face the relevant fall in their turnover, most would be expected to establish that their turnover has or will likely fall in the relevant month or quarter (depending on their Business Activity Statement reporting period) relative to their turnover in a corresponding period a year earlier. Turnover is calculated as it is for GST purposes, and is reported on Business Activity Statements. It includes all taxable supplies and all GST free supplies but not input taxed supplies.

The Tax Commissioner has determined alternative tests for fall in turnover for businesses where there is not an appropriate relevant comparison period.

From 28 September 2020, employers will need to re-assess their eligibility based on their turnover during the September 2020 quarter to remain eligible for JobKeeper. A further re-assessment will be required on 4 January 2021.

Please see our member advice NAT 040/20 – Updated Advice – Australian Government JobKeeper scheme: Eligibility and structure, the ATO website and the Treasury Fact Sheets and FAQs for further information.

How does an organisation apply to the JobKeeper scheme?

The JobKeeper Payment is administered through the ATO.

Eligible entities must enrol to receive the JobKeeper payment and then identify and maintain their eligible employees.

A JobKeeper employee nomination notice must be completed by all nominated employees and returned to the employer before a JobKeeper payment can be claimed for that individual employee.

Eligible entities have until May 31 to enrol for the JobKeeper payment. If enrolled by 31 May organisations will still be able to claim for the fortnights in April and May, provided they meet all the eligibility requirements for each of those fortnights. This includes having paid employees by the appropriate date for each fortnight.

For further information on the enrolment process see the ATO website

How are employers and employees paid the JobKeeper Payment? 

The scheme starts from 30 March 2020 and to be paid the JobKeeper payment, eligible entities must: 

  • qualify for the JobKeeper scheme (see above);
  • have eligible employees  (see above); 
  • have notified all employees (other than employees the employer reasonably believes do not satisfy the eligibility requirements) that the employer is receiving or applying to receive the JobKeeper Payment; and provide each employee with a nomination form for the employee to complete;
  • have received employees' agreement to be nominated by the employer;
  • have paid the eligible employee the applicable JobKeeper payment amount (see above) for the fortnightly period covered by the scheme;
  • have notified the ATO that the organisation wants to participate in the JobKeeper scheme; and
  • have provided the ATO information about their business and the details of each eligible employee. 

The JobKeeper payment is paid to employers monthly in arrears beginning in May 2020 and will be paid into the nominated bank account as per the organisation's most recent tax return. 

Does an organisation have to apply for the JobKeeper Payment?

No, there is no legal requirement for eligible businesses or not-for-profits to apply for the JobKeeper Payment. However, if entities choose not to participate they will not be able to access the wage subsidy.

Does the employer have to apply for the JobKeeper Payment for all eligible employees or can they pick and choose?

If an employer chooses to participate in the scheme, and eligible employees agree to be nominated by the employer, the employer must ensure that all of these eligible employees are covered by their participation in the scheme. Employers cannot select which individual eligible employees to nominate. 

Can employees choose not to be nominated for the JobKeeper Payment?

Yes, employees can choose to decline to be nominated by the employer.

The JobKeeper employee nomination notice has an option for an employee to decline to be nominated.  An employee might decline to be nominated, for example,  because they have nominated to participate in another employer’s scheme (if they have two jobs).

Are employees on workers’ compensation entitled to the JobKeeper Payments?

Employees that are totally incapacitated and are receiving workers’ compensation payments in accordance with workers’ compensation legislation are not eligible to receive JobKeeper payments.

However, employees who have partial capacity in accordance with a Certificate of Capacity but are not working any hours due to a lack of suitable duties, may be regarded as an eligible employee.

Ai Group members are encouraged to call or email the Ai Group Workplace Advice Line for specific advice on this issue of workers’ compensation and JobKeeper Payments.

We hired a new employee in April. Are they eligible for the JobKeeper Payment?

An employee hired in April would be eligible for JobKeeper payments from 3 August 2020.

Employees who were hired after 1 March 2020 were not eligible for JobKeeper Payments for JobKeeper fortnights earlier than 3 August 2020.  From 3 August 2020 onwards, the date for assessing employee’s eligibility changed from 1 March 2020 to 1 July 2020. 
If an employee resigns or is terminated after 1 July 2020, they will not be able receive JobKeeper Payments from their new employer. There may be some limited exceptions that may apply if the employee is employed within the same corporate group.

We acquired a new business after 1 July 2020. Can we claim the JobKeeper Payment for the employees that we have taken on?

An individual can be an eligible employee of an entity even if the business in which the individual is employed changes hands after 1 July 2020.

Therefore, these employees can be regarded as eligible employees of their new employer and the new employer can claim JobKeeper Payments from the ATO for them.

What changes have there been to the Fair Work Act because of the JobKeeper scheme?

Legislation has been passed by Parliament temporarily amending the Fair Work Act 2009 (FW Act) to support the practical operation of the Australian Government’s JobKeeper scheme in Australian workplaces.

The amendments temporarily insert a new Part 6-4C (Coronavirus economic response) into the FW Act which will be automatically repealed on 28 September 2020.

The amendments to the FW Act allow employers who are eligible to access the JobKeeper scheme to:

  • issue directions to employees about their work duties, work location and the number of hours of work (JobKeeper enabling stand down directions); and
  • make agreements with employees about the days and times of work, and annual leave arrangements. An employee must consider and must not unreasonably refuse the employer’s request for agreement to proposed arrangements. 

Only employers that qualify for the JobKeeper scheme are eligible to use the new provisions in the FW Act.

The Federal Government has introduced the Coronavirus Economic Response Package (Jobkeeper Payments) Amendment Bill 2020 to extend the operation of these provisions beyond 28 September 2020.

The Bill gives different rights to employer and employees based on whether the employer continues to be eligible for JobKeeper after 28 September:

  1. Employers that continue to be eligible for JobKeeper will retain the ability to issue directions about work duties, work location and the number of hours of work, but the provisions that relate relating to annual leave will be discontinued.
  2. Employers that were eligible for JobKeeper but are not long eligible, but continue to experience a 10% or more reduction will be able to issue directions about work duties, work location and the number of hours of work, but the hours of work for an employee cannot be reduced to less that 60 per cent of the hours that the employee was working on 1 March 2020.

Employers will be required to obtain a '10% decline in turnover' certificate from an eligible financial services provider. Small businesses with less than 15 employees will be able to self-certify.
 

See Member Advice NAT 032/20 - Australian Government JobKeeper scheme: Amendments to the Fair Work Act for further information.

What are the JobKeeper enabling stand down directions?

An employer who qualifies for the JobKeeper scheme for a particular employee is able to give a JobKeeper enabling stand down direction to the employee requiring the employee to work for less hours than the employee would ordinarily work (including nil hours).

The direction can only be given if the employee cannot be usefully employed for their normal days or hours during the period because of changes to the business attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic or Government initiatives to slow transmission of the Coronavirus.

The direction must be safe and must not be unreasonable in all the circumstances.

A JobKeeper enabling stand down direction has effect despite any inconsistent provisions in an applicable award, enterprise agreement or contract of employment.

The employer must give the employee at least three days written notice of the intention to give a direction (or lesser period by agreement) and must consult the employee or the employee’s representative about it and keep a written record of the consultation. Any direction must be in writing (which can be by electronic means).

During the period when the direction applies:

  • the employee accrues leave entitlements as if the direction had not been given;
  • if the employment of the employee is terminated, any redundancy pay and payment in lieu of notice are to be calculated as if the direction had not been given;
  • the direction does not apply to the employee when the employee is taking paid or unpaid leave that is authorised by the employer (e.g. annual leave), or when the employee is otherwise authorised to be absent(e.g. on a public holiday);
  • if the employee gives the employer a request to engage in reasonable secondary employment or a request for training or professional development, the employer must consider the request and must not unreasonably refuse the request; and
  • the period counts as service for the purposes of the FW Act.

The employer must also comply with payment obligations and rules around the employee's base rate of pay. See Member Advice NAT 032/20 - Australian Government JobKeeper scheme: Amendments to the Fair Work Act for further information.

Before standing down employees  Ai Group Members are urged to contact Ai Group or Ai Group Workplace Lawyers for advice.  Please call our Workplace Advice Line on 1300 55 66 77 for assistance.  Ai Group Members are urged to contact Ai Group or Ai Group Workplace Lawyers for advice.  Please call our Workplace Advice Line on 1300 55 66 77 for assistance. 

Do employees continue to accrue their leave entitlements if they are eligible to receive JobKeeper Payments? 

Yes, an employee who is working and receiving the JobKeeper Payment continues to accrue leave entitlements.

If an employee has been stood under section 524 of the FW Act or is on a JobKeeper enabling direction stand down (working reduced hours or no hours at all) then they also continue to accrue leave entitlements on the ordinary hours they would have worked. 

Can an employee take annual leave whilst receiving the JobKeeper Payment?

Yes. Under the FW Act, an employee is entitled to make a request to their employer to take annual leave during a stand down and the employer cannot unreasonably refuse. This process has not changed with the introduction of the JobKeeper scheme. 

If an eligible employee takes annual leave when they are receiving the JobKeeper payment, it would come from their annual leave entitlement as normal and the organisation will continue to receive the JobKeeper payments for that employee.

The JobKeeper Payment rules continue to apply so the employee must be paid at least the $1,500 JobKeeper Payment, or the actual wages they are entitled to for that fortnight, whichever is greater. 

Superannuation continues to be paid for any annual leave payments. 

Can employees be directed onto annual leave if they are receiving the JobKeeper Payment? 

Under the JobKeeper amendments to the Fair Work Act, until 27 September 2020:

  • An employer had the ability to request that an employee take paid annual leave. The employee was required to consider and not unreasonably refuse their employer’s request; and
  • An employer and an employee were able to agree upon the employee taking twice as much annual leave at half the rate of pay.

From 28 September 2020 those provisions were repealed. However, many modern awards continue to have provisions allowing employers and employees to agree to taking annual leave at half pay. 

See Member Advice NAT 078/20 – Extension of the Fair Work Act provisions which support the operation of the JobKeeper scheme for further information.

Can employees be directed onto long service leave if they are receiving the JobKeeper Payment?

Each state and territory has different legislation for long service leave which means that the ability to direct employees to take long service leave depends on the jurisdiction.

Ai Group members are encouraged to contact the Workplace Advice Line on 1300 55 66 77 for assistance. 

Do annual leave and personal/carers leave payments count as wages for the JobKeeper Payment?

Annual leave and personal/carers leave payments count towards the salary payments an organisation needs to make to be eligible to claim the JobKeeper Payment for an employee.

For example if an employee takes 2 days of paid annual leave by agreement or 2 days of paid personal/carer’s leave, the amounts paid to the employee for these leave types can be used to towards the calculation of the $1,500 that you need to pay to the employee to receive the subsidy from the ATO.

We have staff on unpaid parental leave. Do we pay them the JobKeeper Payment?

Yes. If the employees is eligible, and they are not receiving Parental Leave Pay or Dad and Partner Pay from Services Australia, they will be entitled to be paid JobKeeper Payment. If the employee is receiving Parental Leave Pay or Dad and Partner Pay they will not be eligible. 

Can an employee on unpaid leave receive the Jobkeeper Payment?

Yes, an employee who is on unpaid leave is eligible to receive JobKeeper Payments, provided that they are an eligible employee. 

Can an employee on annual leave or long service leave receive the JobKeeper Payment?

Yes, an employer is entitled to receive the JobKeeper Payment in respect of employees on paid annual leave or long service leave, provided that they are eligible employees. 

Is superannuation paid on JobKeeper Payments? 

If an employee continues to work, superannuation would be payable on the amount paid to the employee in accordance with the agreement between the employer and the employee. 

If the employee is eligible for a top up payment from the employer, the employer only needs to pay superannuation on the amount paid to the employee in accordance with the agreement between the employer and the employee (but not on the top up amount). 

If the employee has been completely stood down and not working, and is receiving the flat $1500 JobKeeper Payment, the employer would not be required to pay superannuation on this amount. 

Our employees are paid monthly. Do we need to pay them fortnightly now to align with Jobkeeper? 

An employee who is paid monthly can continue to be paid as per their normal pay cycle.

Some employers may elect to temporarily move to a fortnightly pay to make it easier to align with the JobKeeper Payments.  If employees are paid monthly, they must have received the monthly equivalent of $1,500 per fortnight. The employer will be paid the JobKeeper Payment from the ATO monthly in arrears.

A full-time employee was made redundant after March 1, before the JobKeeper scheme was introduced. Can they be re-employed so that they can receive the JobKeeper Payment?

Yes, an employer can decide to re-employ an employee. The employee will be eligible for the JobKeeper Payment because they were a permanent employee and employed by an eligible employer on 1 March 2020.

An employer does not need to re-employ people who have had their position terminated if they do not want to. 

Can part time employees be asked to work more hours to bring them up to their JobKeeper payment amount?

An employee can be requested to work more than their contracted part time hours, but they cannot be forced to work the additional hours. 

If they are an eligible employee, they will still be entitled to receive the  JobKeeper Payment from the ATO. The ATO will pay the money to the employer, and the employer must pass on the payment to the employee in full.

Can full-time employees be asked to work fewer hours to bring their wage down to heir JobKeeper payment amount?

The starting position is that an employee is entitled to continue to be paid their normal wage for the relevant pay period. If this is higher than their JobKeeper payment amount the employer will still receive the JobKeeper payment from the ATO to subsidise the employees wage.

If the employee cannot be usefully employed for their normal days or hours because of changes to the business as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, then the employer can give a JobKeeper enabling stand down direction requiring the employee to work fewer hours, including nil hours.

However, employers must be aware that such a direction can only be given if the employee cannot be usefully employed for their normal days or hours during the period because of changes to the business attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic or Government initiatives to slow transmission of COVID-19. Before standing down employees  Ai Group Members are urged to contact Ai Group or Ai Group Workplace Lawyers for advice.  Please call our Workplace Advice Line on 1300 55 66 77 for assistance. 

See Member Advice NAT 083/20 - Extension of the Fair Work Act provisions for the operation of the JobKeeper scheme for further information. 

Can an employee that qualifies for the JobKeeper Payment with more than one employer swap their nomination once it has been made? 

Where an employee has multiple jobs and qualifies for JobKeeper payments with more than one employer, that employee cannot swap their nomination once they have nominated one over the other. 

The exception to this is an employee who nominated for JobKeeper with an eligible employer from 1 March 2020, and that employee later started with a new employer before 1 July 2020. In that circumstance, the employee can nominate with the new employer based on the 1 July 2020 eligibility date.

What happens with an eligible employee JobKeeper Payment if the employee resigns?

If an employee’s employment ends for any reason, including termination due to redundancy or misconduct, they will cease to be an eligible employee of the employer.

The employer must notify the ATO when an employee leaves employment.  The employer will stop receiving JobKeeper payments for that person.

Do I need to pay workers compensation premium or payroll tax for workers who are receiving JobKeeper payments?

State and territory jurisdictions are looking at both workers’ compensation premiums and payroll tax to identify how they should be considered in the context of JobKeeper payments.  

A number of jurisdictions have taken the same approach to these on costs as Treasury has taken to superannuation guarantee.  For specific guidance for each jurisdiction please see our COVID-19 Factsheet: Wages on costs

Further information

To assist Members to navigate the JobKeeper scheme, the following Member Advices have been produced. Please see the following for further details:

Members who have questions about their eligibility for the JobKeeper scheme can email jobkeeper@aigroup.com.au.

For JobKeeper Payment workplace relations questions, members can call the Ai Group Workplace Advice Line on 1300 55 66 77. Members have the option to leave a 'call back' request, if they prefer not to wait on hold. Alternatively, members can email workplaceadvice@aigroup.com.au and an adviser will call them back.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice and resources

Ai Group is continually publishing new COVID-19 advice and resources for employers:

  • Specific HR Resource Centre and Health & Safety Resource Centre content to assist members during the COVID-19 pandemic can be found here.
  • Dedicated COVID-19 member advice, industry news, resources and latest information can be found here

Join Ai Group today

Take advantage of more than 140 years of experience actively solving Members’ workplace issues and representing their interests at the highest levels of national and state government. Being a Member of Ai Group makes good business sense. 

Download our brochure to see why you should join and call us on 1300 55 66 77 or visit our Why join page to sign up for a consultation with one of our member representatives.
 

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