July 2020

As the impact of the coronavirus on our daily lives and livelihoods rapidly evolves, below are the latest measures released by the Government to reduce both the impact to the nations health, economy, household and business finances.

JobTrainer skills package
The Australian Government will invest $2 billion to provide hundreds of thousands of Australians with access to new skills by retraining and upskilling them into sectors with job opportunities, as the economy recovers from COVID-19.

The JobTrainer package has two aspects to it.

The first aspect of the package, which is worth $1.5 billion, is aimed at keeping employed those already in apprenticeships and traineeships. Eligibility has been extended to medium-sized businesses with 199 employees or fewer who employed an apprentice as of 1 July 2020.

This subsidy will be made available to expand and extend the Supporting Apprentices and Trainees wage subsidy until March 2021. This will cover an anticipated 50% of the wages of apprentices and trainees.

The second aspect of JobTrainer is aimed at school leavers and those looking for work. The federal government has allocated $500 million to provide free or low cost vocational education and training courses in places of identified skills needs. That funding is conditional on matching funds from state and territory governments.

The JobTrainer fund is anticipated to provide for around 340,700 additional training places to help school leavers and job seekers gain the skills they need to get a job.

Further information about these changes will be made available in the coming weeks.

Source: https://www.dese.gov.au/news/jobtrainer-skills-package-announced

JobKeeper changes announced
The JobKeeper Payment has been extended by a further six months to March 2021, targeting support to those organisations which continue to be significantly impacted by COVID-19.

From 28 September 2020, eligibility for the JobKeeper Payment will be based on actual turnover in the relevant periods. The payment rate will be reduced and a lower payment rate will be introduced for those who work fewer hours. Other eligibility rules remain unchanged.

Business eligibility

Organisations seeking to claim the JobKeeper Payment, will be required to reassess their eligibility and demonstrate a significant decline for the JobKeeper Payment extension with reference to their actual GST turnover, relative to comparable periods to receive payments after 27 September 2020.

Organisations will need to demonstrate they have met the relevant continuing decline in GST turnover for both the June and September quarters 2020 to be eligible for JobKeeper Payment from 28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021.

In order to be eligible for the second JobKeeper Payment extension period of 4 January 2021 to 28 March 2021, organisations will again need to demonstrate their actual GST turnover has significantly fallen in the June, September and December 2020 quarters relative to comparable periods.

JobKeeper payment rates

The JobKeeper Payment rate payment will be stepped down and paid at two rates rather than the previous flat payment to better reflect the pre-COVID 19 income of recipients.

The rates are based on the amount of hours worked by eligible employees and for business participants who were actively engaged in the business in the four weeks before 1 March 2020.

Eligible employees who worked 20 hours or more a week* – Eligible employees who worked less than 20 hours per week* –
From 28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021 $1,200 per fortnight $750 per fortnight
From 4 January 2021 to 28 March 2021 $1,000 per fortnight $650 per fortnight

* in the four weeks before 1 March 2020.

Businesses and not-for-profits will be required to nominate which payment rate they are claiming for each of their eligible employees or participant.

The JobKeeper Payment will continue to be made by the ATO to employers in arrears and employers will be required to continue to make payments to employees equal to or greater than the JobKeeper payments.

Call us today if you need help managing your business cashflow or applying for government financial assistance during the current crisis.

Information in this article has been sourced from the Treasury website: https://treasury.gov.au/coronavirus/jobkeeper/extension

Extension of the JobSeeker program
The Government is extending the Coronavirus Supplement to eligible recipients to 31 December 2020. The amount of the Supplement will be adjusted to reflect the gradually improved economic conditions and improving labour market.

Both existing and new recipients eligible for the Coronavirus supplement will continue to be $550 per fortnight up to and including 24 September 2020. From 25 September, the $550 per fortnight coronavirus supplement, which effectively doubled the fortnightly income support payment, will be reduced to $250 per fortnight.

New eligibility testing

From 25 September 2020, new eligibility testing and access to payments for new and existing JobSeeker and other income support recipients will also be introduced. These include;

  • Income free threshold increase: from 25 September 2020 until 31 December 2020, the income free threshold for the JobSeeker Payment recipients will increase from $106 per fortnight to $300 per fortnight. The threshold for other income support payment recipients will increase to $300 from $143 per fortnight.

    This means recipients can earn up to $300 per fortnight and continue to receive the maximum payment rate for the JobSeeker Payment and other income supper payments. If recipients earn over that threshold, they will still see their JobSeeker allowance tapered down.

  • Means testing: the government will also re-introduce an asset test for eligibility for all payments and the Liquid Assets Waiting Period (LAWP) for all payments will be reinstated.
  • Partner income testing: the partner income test cut-out will increase to $3,086.11 per fortnight, or $80,238.89 per annum, for individuals with no personal income, from 25 September 2020. The partner income test taper rate will increase to 27 cents on 25 September 2020 until 31 December 2020.
  • Reinstated job-seeking requirement: from 9 June 2020, the mutual obligation requirements were reintroduced including;
    • voluntary job searches;
    • at least one phone or online appointment with a jobseeker’s employment services provider;
    • voluntary participation in activities, either online or in person; and
    • no payment suspensions or penalties for failure to comply.

Please don’t hesitate to give us a call if you have any questions about how the changes to the JobSeeker Payment will impact your financial situation.

Information in this article has been sourced from the Treasury website: https://treasury.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-07/Fact_sheet-Income_Support_for_Individuals.pdf

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