JobKeeper Payment Scheme Announced – UPDATED

The Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, announced details of the Australian Government’s JobKeeper Payment scheme this afternoon.

The JobKeeper Payment is a subsidy to businesses, not for profit entities, including charities, will also be eligible.  The payments are paid to employers, for up to six months, for each eligible employee that was on their books on 1 March 2020 and is retained or continues to be engaged by that employer. Employers will receive a payment of $1,500 per fortnight per eligible employee. Every eligible employee must receive at least $1,500 per fortnight from this business, before tax.

The program will commence today, 30 March 2020, with the first payments to be received by eligible businesses in the first week of May as monthly arrears from the Australian Taxation Office. Eligible businesses can begin distributing the JobKeeper payment immediately and will be reimbursed from the first week of May.

Eligible employers will be those with annual turnover of less than $1 billion who self-assess that have a reduction in revenue of 30 per cent or more, since 1 March 2020 over a minimum one-month period.

Now updated, following the announcement by the Treasurer (5 April) to be a reduction of 15% for ACNC registered charities (which would include almost all Christian schools).

FURTHER UPDATED: the Government has indicated (confirmed with Minister’s office 7 April) that this reduced threshold will NOT apply to non-government schools which must still meet the higher 30% threshold.  Thus is enacted in the Exposure Draft Coronavirus Economic Response Package (Payments and Benefits) Rules 2020 released 8 April.

Employers with an annual turnover of $1 billion or more would be required to demonstrate a reduction in revenue of 50 per cent or more to be eligible. Businesses subject to the Major Bank Levy will not be eligible.

Full time and part time employees, including stood down employees, would be eligible to receive the JobKeeper Payment. Where a casual employee has been with their employer for at least the previous 12 months they will also be eligible for the Payment. An employee will only be eligible to receive this payment from one employer.

Eligible businesses can apply for the payment online and are able to register their interest via the ATO website here.

Given the amended eligibility criteria proposed for charities this payment would have been applicable to a number of Christian schools.  With the announcement that schools would not be covered like other charities few schools would seem likely to qualify.  We will await the passage of legislation to determine the final eligibility criteria.

The Government has released or updated a range of information on the Scheme –

Further information is available for both employees and employers on the Treasury website here.