On 7 August 2020, the government announced further changes to employee eligibility for JobKeeper.
Changes to employee eligibility for JobKeeper
On 7 August 2020, the government announced further changes to increase access to the scheme, driven by the ongoing crisis and the implementation of Stage 4 business restrictions in Victoria.
On 14 August 2020, the Treasurer registered a Legislative Instrument titled Coronavirus Economic Response Package (Payments and Benefits) Amendment Rules (No. 7) 2020 (the Amendment Rules). The Amendment Rules amend the Legislative Instrument containing the JobKeeper rules to change the employee eligibility reference date from 1 March 2020 to 1 July 2020.
The stated purpose of the Amendment Rules is to extend the scope of the wage subsidy support so that it also benefits employers of more recently engaged employees.
Also on 14 August 2020, the ATO confirmed that it will allow employers until Monday 31 August 2020 to meet the wage condition for, and to enrol, employees who are newly eligible for JobKeeper under the 1 July 2020 eligibility test.
So what does all this mean?
If you are currently registered and receiving the JobKeeper subsidy, you will need to revisit eligible employees employed between 1 March 2020 and 1 July 2020.
The Amendment Rules have changed the eligibility reference date for employees for JobKeeper fortnights commencing on or after Monday 3 August 2020.
The revised reference date applies to:
- the final four fortnights of the current JobKeeper scheme — i.e. the fortnights commencing 3 August, 17 August, 31 August and 14 September 2020; and
- the proposed extended JobKeeper scheme — i.e. all fortnights from 28 September 2020 to 28 March 2021.
The revised employee eligibility criteria
Just to complicate the current JobKeeper 1.0 program, you will once again need to revisit employee eligibility.
The revised eligibility criteria are as follows:
- the individual is employed by the entity at any time in the fortnight — including those stood down or re-hired;
- on 1 July 2020— the individual was aged 18 or over (or if they were 16 or 17 years old on 1 July 2020 — they were independent or not undertaking full-time study);
- on 1 July 2020— the individual was either a full-time, part-time or fixed-term permanent employee, or a long term casual employee;
- on 1 July 2020— the individual was either an Australian resident for social security law purposes, or a tax resident and held a special category Subclass 444 visa;
- the individual agrees to be nominated by the employer as an eligible employee; and
- the individual does not receive the Government’s paid parental leave or dad and partner pay, or workers’ compensation payments for total incapacity for work, at any time during the fortnight.
What employees will the changes affect?
The amendments allow employees who are not eligible under the former 1 March 2020 test date, but are now eligible under the 1 July 2020 reference date, to be enrolled for JobKeeper for fortnights commencing on or after 3 August 2020.
Affected employees include those who:
- did not meet the definition of a ‘long term casual employee’ as of 1 March 2020, but have since met the definition by 1 July 2020 — this group will mainly comprise casual employees who commenced with the employer between 3 March 2019 and 2 July 2019;
- turned 18 years old between 2 March 2020 and 1 July 2020;
- turned 16 years old, and were living independently or not undertaking full-time study, between 2 March 2020 and 1 July 2020;
- were 16 or 17 years old on 1 March 2020, but started living independently or stopped undertaking full-time study between 2 March 2020 and 1 July 2020; or
- became either an Australian resident for social security law purposes, or a tax resident and holding a special category Subclass 444 visa, between 2 March 2020 and 1 July 2020.
Remember the ‘on in all in rule’ applies so you will need to retest employees and have them complete the relevant nomination forms pre 31 August 2020. Employees already enrolled in the program will not need to re-nominate.