Worth $130 billion, the scheme is designed to help businesses affected by COVID-19 to cover the costs of their employees’ wages, enabling more employees to retain their jobs and continue to earn an income. Eligible businesses can receive and forward on $1,500 per fortnight per employee for up to 6 months.
But the scheme doesn’t provide for everyone. Here are those who will benefit and those who will lose out.
Of course if a business is eligible for the JobKeeper scheme, then the business and its employees will be experiencing genuine hardship. So there are no real winners in the true sense of the word. However, for many businesses and employees the scheme will do a good job of cushioning the full brunt of the economic fallout of COVID-19.
Any business with turnover under $1 billion which has experienced a 30% decline in revenue or any business with turnover over $1 billion which has experienced a 50% decline in revenue is eligible. Sole traders are eligible as well.
Charities are also eligible and the guidelines have been made more flexible for them. It has now been announced that charities only need to prove a 15% fall in turnover to be eligible.
Eligible staff include permanent full-time or part-time staff, or long-term casual staff employed for a minimum of 12 months. The $1,500 fortnightly payment for staff is the fixed minimum amount per employee. That means that there will be many workers who will actually earn more under the scheme. This is particularly true for part-time employees.
For businesses which are temporarily shut down due to the COVID-19 restrictions, eligible staff will still receive the payment even if they’re not working in the same capacity or at all.
Unfortunately the JobKeeper scheme won’t benefit all businesses or employees.
Businesses which will experience a delay in losses but are still receiving income from sales activity that took place in Q4 2019, might not feel the full economic fall out for several months to come. As a result they may miss out on the initial JobKeeper payments, however when they do go to claim in the future they may find they are only able to claim for a much shorter period.
Businesses set up as partnerships or trusts may lose out. Only one working director, partner, beneficiary or shareholder can receive JobKeeper payments, not all those involved. This would affect several small family businesses where the business is structured as a partnership between a husband and wife. Even though both work in the business, only one of them is eligible.
Casual workers employed for under 12 months aren’t eligible. For some industries such as the arts, where short-term contracts are the norm, many will miss out. Migrants workers (excluding our Kiwi friends) are also not eligible.
There are some concerns that some businesses may take advantage of the scheme, paying employees the flat $1,500 a fortnight when they would normally pay more. This remains to be seen, but is a risk nonetheless.
How can businesses apply?
JobKeeper enrollments opened on 20 April and will close at the end of May. It is up to businesses to enrol on behalf of employees and inform their employees of their enrollment. Employers will need to provide a JobKeeper Employee Nomination Notice to their employees to complete and return to them.
Businesses can enrol for JobKeeper from any month in the March to September 2020 period. Businesses will need to prove their turnover has fallen in the relevant month or quarter (depending on their BAS reporting period) compared to the same period in 2019. Business activity statements and other documents will need to be provided. Additionally, businesses will need to make monthly declarations to the ATO via the Business Portal to reconfirm eligible employees and turnover.
What happens after six months?
The JobKeeper scheme will currently run for six months. At this stage it is unknown whether it will be extended, I guess it will depend on the economic outlook in six months’ time. If there are signs that lifting the scheme will result in significant job losses it is reasonable to expect that the government will consider extending the scheme or introducing additional stimulus measures.
David Hancock is a director and Senior Financial Planner at Montara Wealth. His role is to oversee the running of the business and ensure the delivery of exceptional service and strategic based advice to clients. David is well known for developing strong long-term relationships with clients and is passionate about helping them identify and implement life changing financial strategies.