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JobKeeper Date Of Employment To Be Expanded

written by Darren Hagarty

On 21 July 2020, the Federal Government announced an extension of the JobKeeper scheme which was due to expire on 27 September 2020.

JobKeeper 2.0, as it has been colloquially referred to, extends the scheme to 28 March 2021, but reduced payment amounts and fresh eligibility criteria will apply with effect from 28 September 2020.

On 7 August 2020, further changes were announced to soften the eligibility criteria that will apply. In a future post, we will examine more closely the rules surrounding JobKeeper 2.0 (arguably now JobKeeper 2.1 in light of these modifications).

However, more urgently, we wish to shine a light on another of the 7 August 2020 announcements which has a potential immediate impact on the remaining period of the original JobKeeper scheme.

Under the existing rules, an eligible employee had to, among other things, be employed as at 1 March 2020 to qualify for JobKeeper. Additionally, where they were a casual at that date, they had to have been employed on a regular and systematic basis for longer than 12 months as at 1 March 2020.

The 7 August 2020 announcement changes that reference point to 1 July 2020, with effect to all JobKeeper fortnights commencing on or after 3 August 2020 – which means it impacts the last four fortnights of the original JobKeeper scheme.

This expands the amount of JobKeeper that eligible employers are entitled to include:

  • Full-time or part-time employees employed after 1 March 2020 but on or before 1 July 2020;
  • Casual employees employed at 1 July 2020 who commenced their casual employment before 1 July 2019.

If an employer has any new eligible employees as a result of these changes, action may be required prior to the end of the current JobKeeper fortnight (which is Sunday 16 August) if a top-up payment to an employee is needed in order for them to meet the minimum $1,500 per fortnight wage condition.

The changes outlined above are still subject to Parliamentary approval which will not occur prior to 16 August. Therefore, for employers with new eligible employees earning below $1,500 for the JobKeeper fortnight ended 16 August, they face the following dilemma:

  1. Pay the required top-ups prior to 16 August and take the risk that if the change does not receive Parliamentary approval these top-ups will not be reimbursed by the ATO; or
  2. Hold-off on paying the required top-ups until the changes receive Parliamentary approval and take the risk that the Parliamentary approval carries with it an ability to retrospectively make top-up payments as necessary in order to meet the minimum $1500 per fortnight wage condition.

Should you have any questions about this change, please contact your PT Partners advisor.

Darren Hagarty is a Director of PT Partners.

Image credits: Tourism Australia


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