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The $1500 JobKeeper payment has passed Parliament. Here’s everything you need to know.

About six million Australians are set to benefit from a $1500 wage subsidy after the Government’s JobKeeper legislation passed Federal Parliament on Wednesday.

In late March, the federal government announced the $130 billion support package to help Australia cope with the economic crisis that has unfolded because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it was the biggest economic package Australia has seen in its history, and more than 730,000 businesses have registered for access to the scheme since its announcement.

The ‘job keeper’ payment of $1500 per fortnight will see the government pay employers to pay their employees.

Listen: What four Australian healthcare workers want you to know about COVID-19.

This will ensure Australians can keep their jobs even if the work cannot continue because of the coronavirus crisis, the Prime Minister said.

“We want to keep the economy running through this crisis, it may run in idle for some time, but it must run,” Scott Morrison said during the press conference.

The Opposition backed the legislation after its amendment to expand the payment to include 1.1 million more casual workers and temporary visa holders failed.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said a “line had to be drawn” by the Government at some stage, when discussing support for workers.

Here is what you need to know about eligibility for the JobKeeper payment, and the JobSeeker payment announced in March.

What is the JobKeeper payment?

The JobKeeper payment is a subsidy for businesses, aimed at keeping more employees in jobs.

The payment will be paid to employers for up to six months for each eligible employee that was employed on March 1, 2020, and is retained or continues to be engaged by that employer.

Employers will receive a payment of $1500 per fortnight for each eligible employee, which must then be passed on to the employees.

This will be delivered through the Australian Tax Office and means workers eligible for the JobKeeper payment won’t be accessing the payment through Centrelink, but rather through their employers who will be receiving the amount from the government.

Who is eligible for JobKeeper?

Both employers and employees must meet eligibility criteria to receive JobKeeper payments.

Businesses (companies, partnerships, trusts and sole traders), not-for-profits and charities are eligible if:

  • Business has a turnover of less than $1 billion and their turnover will be reduced by more than 30 per cent relative to a comparable period a year ago
  • Business has a turnover of $1 billion or more and their turnover will be reduced by more than 50 per cent relative to a comparable period a year ago
  • The business is not subject to the Major Bank Levy

The employer must have been in an employment relationship with eligible employees as at March 1, 2020, and confirm that each eligible employee is currently engaged in order to receive JobKeeper Payments.

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Eligible employees are employees who:

  • Are currently employed by the eligible employer (including those stood down or re-hired)
  • Were employed by the employer at March 1, 2020
  • Are full time, part time, or long-term casuals (a casual employed on a regular basis for longer than 12 months as at March 1, 2020)
  • Are at least 16 years of age
  • Are not receiving a JobKeeper Payment from another employer
  • Are an Australian citizen, the holder of a permanent visa, a Protected Special Category Visa Holder, a non-protected Special Category Visa Holder who has been residing continually in Australia for 10 years or more or a New Zealander on a 444 visa

This will apply to workers who have been stood down since March 1, meaning employees who have lost their jobs since that date should talk to their employers.

The government estimates six million workers will receive this payment.

When and how will JobKeeper be paid?

The program is effective from March 30, 2020, but payments will not begin until May.

Eligible businesses can begin distributing the payment immediately and be reimbursed in May, when the first payments will be backdated and received as monthly arrears.

Employers will pay employees as usual, and will receive payments monthly in arrears from the ATO.

Will the payment change dependent on my ordinary income?

No. The payment is $1500 no matter how much an employee’s ordinary income is.

“Our JobKeeper plan sees every Australian worker the same way, no matter what you earn. There is not more support for some as there is for others,” Morrison said on Monday, emphasising everyone will be paid the same flat rate.

The JobKeeper Payment will assist employers to continue operating by subsidising all or part of the income of their employee(s).

If an employee ordinarily receives $1,500 or more in income per fortnight before tax, they will continue to receive their regular income according to their prevailing workplace arrangements.

If an employee ordinarily receives less than $1,500 in income per fortnight before tax, their employer must pay their employee, at a minimum, $1,500 per fortnight, before tax.

If an employee has been stood down, their employer must pay their employee, at a minimum, $1,500 per fortnight, before tax.

Will JobKeeper include superannuation payments?

Employers must continue to pay superannuation on an employee’s regular wages, but it will be up to the employer if they want to pay superannuation on any additional wage paid because of the JobKeeper Payment.

For example, if you usually receive $1200 a fortnight, your employer must continue to pay superannuation on this, but can decide if it pays super on the additional $300 you would receive with JobKeeper.

How do I apply for JobKeeper payments?

Employers can register their interest in JobKeeper payments on the ATO website.

You do not need to call the ATO. Registering interest will ensure you receive further updates.

As of Tuesday morning, more than 110,000 businesses have registered their interest in the scheme.

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Can I get JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments?

No, you cannot receive both JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments.

If you have already applied for JobSeeker payments but have been re-engaged by your employer, you can withdraw and shift your application to JobKeeper.

What is the JobSeeker payment?

The JobSeeker payment is for those aged between 22 and Age Pension age who looking for work. It’s also for when you’re sick or injured and can’t do your usual work or study for a short time.

If you’ve lost your job, you’ll be able to access the Coronavirus Supplement of $550 a fortnight ($275 a week) for six months, from April 27. It means the JobSeeker Payment, previously known as Newstart, will effectively double.

That’s on top of other benefits too, so if you’re already receiving payments through JobSeeker, you can claim both.

Who is eligible for the Coronavirus Supplement?

The Coronavirus Supplement will go to anyone receiving:

  • JobSeeker Payment
  • Sickness Allowance
  • Youth Allowance for jobseekers
  • Parenting Payment Partnered
  • Parenting Payment Single
  • Partner Allowance
  • Farm Household Allowance

The government has temporarily expanded eligibility for the JobSeeker and Youth Allowance payments, meaning you may be eligible if you are:

  • A permanent employee who has been stood down or lost your job
  • A sole trader, self-employed, a casual or contract worker whose income has reduced
  • Caring for someone who’s affected by COVID-19.

Sole traders and casual workers who are currently making less than $1,075 a fortnight will be eligible to receive the full supplement.

Usually, Australians out of work are not eligible for the JobSeeker payment if their partner earns $48,000 or more, but under changes made on Monday, people will be eligible for JobSeeker payments if their partner earns under $79,762.

If you are already receiving one of the above welfare payments, you do not need to do anything to receive the Coronavirus Supplement. Services Australia will automatically pay the Coronavirus Supplement to eligible recipients from April 27.

If you are not currently receiving welfare, you will need to apply.

You can apply online at MyGov using a Centrelink account or by contacting Services Australia by phone. It is recommended to begin applications online or via the Centrelink app.

Read more on COVID-19:

If you are sick and believe you have symptoms of COVID-19, call your GP ahead of time to book an appointment. Or call the national Coronavirus Health Information Line for advice on 1800 020 080. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 000.

To keep up to date with the latest information, please visit the Department of Health website.

This story was first published on March 31 and has been updated.

Feature images: Getty.

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