The JobKeeper Payment was introduced by the Australian Government as part of its economic response to the Coronavirus. The underlying idea being to maintain a positive employer-employee relationship while Australia is combating the effect of COVID-19 on the Australian workforce and the economy as a whole.
The JobKeeper Payment is available to eligible businesses affected by the Coronavirus. The Government wishes to limit the economic effect of COVID-19 on the Australian workforce and assist the economy to bounce back quicker as Australia adapts to a new normal. The JobKeeper Payment is administered by the ATO.
Eligible entities were able to submit a JobKeeper application with the ATO by 31 May 2020. Towards the end of May 2020, it was noted that 910,000 businesses had registered for the program. The JobKeeper Payment is available from 30 March 2020 until 27 September 2020 and applies to employees employed by the employer on 1 March 2020.
Irrespective of the Government recently informing the public that it overestimated the JobKeeper wage subsidy program by $60 billion, it does not intend to extend the payments beyond September 2020. It appears that the Government’s aim is rather to stimulate the economy in other ways that will lead to long-term job creation, as opposed to, keeping employees and businesses depend on receiving this form of cash support.
In short, the JobKeeper payment consists of a fortnightly payment of $1,500 (before tax) to the employee through their employer. The employee is required to sign a form acknowledging their awareness that a payment will be made to them in accordance with the JobKeeper Payment regime.
It is important to note that if an employee earns more than $1,500 per fortnight that the employee is still entitled to receive their full salary. The JobKeeper Payment will merely act as a subsidy towards paying the salary the employee is entitled to.
Furthermore, a monthly business declaration needs to be submitted to substantiate the businesses’ eligibility to receive the JobKeeper payment. The first monthly business declaration is due by the 14th of June and needs to be submitted on a monthly basis by the 14th day of each month thereafter.
Entities claiming the JobKeeper payments are required to retain certain records for five years after the relating payments were received. The data retention provides an opportunity to verify the information provided to the Tax Commissioner at a later date. The information will be requested during ATO audits conducted to ensure compliance and verifying that the JobKeeper Payments were passed on to the employees. This will also assist to identify and address fraudulent and other forms of abuse relating to the JobKeeper Payments regime.