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Changes to JobKeeper Rules

The Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg announced late on Friday 24 April important changes to the JobKeeper rules. These changes address some of the concerns that Saward Dawson has raised and will benefit many of our clients who were excluded from JobKeeper prior to these changes. It may also mean that some 16-17 year old staff who were previously included will now be excluded.

We have not as yet seen the actual changes to the rules but here is what the Treasurer announced:

  • Employees employed through a special purpose entity, rather than an operating entity: Changes will address the circumstances where business structures use a special purpose entity to employ staff rather than staff being directly employed by an operating entity. The Government will provide an alternate decline in turnover test for the eligibility of special purpose service entities that provide employee labour to group members and that have not met the basic test for decline in turnover. This alternate test will apply where an entity provides the services of its employees to one or more related entities, where those related entities carry on a business deriving revenue from unrelated third parties. The alternate test will be by reference to the combined GST turnovers of the related entities using the services of the employer entity.
  • Charities and the treatment of government revenue: Changes will allow charities (other than schools and universities) to elect to exclude government revenue from the JobKeeper turnover test. This will allow employing charities receiving revenue from government to use either their total turnover, or their turnover excluding government revenue, for the purposes of assessing eligibility for the JobKeeper Payment. This will help to ensure that the eligibility of charities is not adversely affected where they are delivering significant services that are funded by government.
  • Religious practitioners: Changes will allow JobKeeper Payments to be made to religious institutions in respect of religious practitioners (with the exception of those that are students only), recognising that many religious practitioners are not ‘employees’ of their religious institutions.
  • ‘One in, all in’ principle: Once an employer decides to participate in the JobKeeper scheme and their eligible employees have agreed to be nominated by the employer, the employer must ensure that all of these eligible employees are covered by their participation in the scheme. This includes all eligible employees who are undertaking work for the employer or have been stood down. The employer cannot select which eligible employees will participate in the scheme. As noted in the explanatory statement to the existing rules, this ‘one in, all in’ principle is already a key feature of the scheme and will be made clearer in the rules.
  • Full time students aged 16 and 17 years old: As noted in the explanatory statement to the existing rules, the benefit of the JobKeeper payment to workers over the age of 16 is justified for those who are financially independent and who require the security provided by participation in the JobKeeper scheme and the maintenance of the working relationship that it affords. The rules will provide that full time students who are 17 years old and younger, and who are not financially independent, are not eligible for the JobKeeper Payment. This clarification will apply prospectively, which would mean an eligible employer that has already met the wage condition of paying such an employee $1,500 for a fortnight could be entitled to a JobKeeper Payment in arrears for that fortnight.
  • International Aid Organisations: Changes will allow entities that are endorsed under the Overseas Aid Gift Deductibility Scheme or for developed country relief to meet the requirement that not-for-profits pursue their objectives principally in Australia. The current requirement that employees must be Australian residents to be eligible under the JobKeeper program would remain in place.
  • Universities: Changes will clarify that the core Commonwealth Government financial assistance provided to universities will be included in the JobKeeper turnover tests.

Funding the $1,500 payment per employee by 30 April

In addition, the Treasurer made the following statement about funding the minimum payment of the minimum $1,500 per employee that must be paid by 30 April in order to qualify for the JobKeeper payments fort the 2 fornights commencing 30 March 2020.

The banks have also agreed to setup special hotlines to help businesses who need finance to bridge the gap until the first JobKeeper payments are made. The banks have also agreed to bring JobKeeper-related applications to the front of the queue and work with the ATO to accelerate the finance assessment process. 

Those Hotline numbers are:

Westpac - 1300 731 073
NAB - 1800 562 533 (1800 JOBKEEPER)
CBA - 13 26 07
ANZ - 1800 571 123 

We recommend that anyone experiencing difficulty in meeting their payment obligations under JobKeeper ring their bank immediately to discuss assistance.

We are here to assist

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you require clarification on how JobKeeper applies to you or if you require assistance with the administration of the scheme.


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