As you are no doubt aware, the Federal Government recently modified the JobKeeper subsidy scheme. The modifications will take effect on 28 September 2020 and will operate until 28 March 2021 and will feature a gradual reduction in payments over the six-month period as set out in Table 1 below.
Table 1: Changes to JobKeeper Payments
Employer Eligibility Criteria
Under the modifications, eligible businesses and not-for-profit organisations will only have to demonstrate an actual fall in GST turnover as opposed to a projected fall in GST turnover in the relevant comparison periods as set out in Table 2 rather than for multiple quarters as is the case currently. This should hopefully result in more businesses being able to access JobKeeper for their employees. In addition, employers who remain JobKeeper eligible after 28 September 2020 will retain access to the full range of JobKeeper flexibility provisions for their eligible employees and staff employed after 1 March 2020 may now also be eligible for JobKeeper with the eligibility date moving from 1 March 2020 to 1 July 2020.
Table 2: Comparison Periods and GST Turnover Fall Required for JobKeeper
Legacy Employers are those employers who no longer qualify for JobKeeper after 28 September 2020. Under the JobKeeper changes, Legacy Employers will be able to access a modified version of the JobKeeper provisions for employees who used to be JobKeeper eligible provided that the Legacy Employer can show a 10% decline in turnover during the September 2020 quarter and / or December 2020 quarter. To be classified as a Legacy Employer, the employer must obtain a 10% Decline Turnover Test Certificate from either a Registered Company Auditor or Registered Tax Agent, BAS Agent, Tax Advisor or Accountant.
Legacy Employers will:
- have access to modified JobKeeper Enabling Directions;
- be able to issue a JobKeeper Enabling Stand Down Direction to an employee who previously received JobKeeper payments so as to reduce the employee’s ordinary hours to a minimum of 60% of their ordinary hours as they were at 1 March 2020 (which does not apply casuals). To do this, the employer must meet the relevant criteria and the Direction must not result in the employee working less than 2 consecutive hours in a day; and
- be required to give employees a 7-day notice period (as opposed to a 3-day notice period for non-Legacy Employers) prior to giving a JobKeeper Enabling Direction.
JobKeeper Enabling Directions
JobKeeper Enabling Directions will automatically cease on 28 October 2020 for those employees who are no longer eligible to receive JobKeeper payments. That said, if the employer wishes to issue new JobKeeper Enabling Directions, it will need to obtain a 10% Decline Turnover Test Certificate for the quarter ending 30 September 2020. If the employer’s circumstances are such that the JobKeeper Enabling Direction will cease on 28 October 2020, then the employer must notify the employee in writing prior to this date. These notification requirements also apply in relation to the December 2020 quarter with the cessation date of 28 February 2021.
It is also very important that employers understand that civil penalties apply in circumstances where an employer has contravened a notification requirement on more than one occasion. If you need assistance managing your workforce as a result of changes to the enabling directions, then please do not hesitate to contact our Workplace Team.
JobKeeper and Employer Instigated Leave Requests
The JobKeeper provisions which allowed for employers to request that employees run their annual down to no less than 2 weeks will cease on 28 September 2020. There is also no requirement on an employee to comply with any requests which relate to taking paid annual leave after this date in accordance with JobKeeper provisions. In addition, any agreement between an employer and an employee for the employee to take their annual leave at half pay as a result of JobKeeper will also cease as at 28 September 2020.
If you have any questions regarding the JobKeeper scheme or need assistance in managing employees throughout this time, do not hesitate to contact a member of our Workplace Team.