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1. JobKeeper 2.0

JobKeeper Payments will now be payable until 28 March 2021

There are  two separate extension periods:

• Extension period 1 – which covers the seven JobKeeper fortnights that commence on 28 September 2020 and end on 3 January 2021

• Extension period 2 – which covers the JobKeeper fortnights that commence on 4 January 2021 and end on 28 March 2021.

Note: whilst employers will generally qualify for JKPs in the same way, it is important to note that they will need to separately satisfy a new Decline in Turnover Test for both Extension Period 1 and Extension Period 2. 

JKPs will now be made at two different rates.

Where an employer, sole trader or an eligible entity with an eligible business participant (‘EBP’), qualifies for a JKP, they will either be paid at the:
                • Full rate; or
                • Reduced rate.

An employer will be paid at the full rate if, in the four weeks of pay periods before 1 March 2020, the employee was working in the business or not-for-profit for 20 hours or more a week on average.

A sole trader EBP, or an eligible entity with an EBP, will be paid at the full rate if the EBP was actively engaged in the business for 20 hours or more per week on average in the month of February 2020.

Where the employee (or EBP) did not achieve the 20-hour average, the JKP will be made at the reduced rate. However, the Commissioner will have a discretion to set out an alternative test where an employee’s or EBP’s hours were not usual during the February 2020 reference period.
Note: where the employer only qualifies for a JKP at the reduced rate, they only need to pay that reduced amount to the employee in order to satisfy the wage condition. 

What are the two JobKeeper 2.0 rates?

As noted above, from the JobKeeper fortnight commencing 28 September 2020, JKPs will be made at two different rates (i.e., at the full rate or a reduced rate).

Refer to the table below.
Period                                  Full Rate                                  Reduced Rate
Extension Period 1                $1,200                                          $750
Extension Period 2                $1,000                                          $650

What will JobKeeper 2.0 look like?

The following table sets out the full and reduced JKP rates for Periods 1 and 2.

JobKeeper Extension Period 1

JobKeeper Fortnight                                  Full rate          Reduced rate

28 September 2020 – 11 October 2020     $1,200              $750
12 October 2020 – 25 October 2020          $1,200              $750
26 October 2020 – 8 November 2020        $1,200              $750
9 November 2020 – 22 November 2020    $1,200              $750
23 November 2020 – 6 December 2020    $1,200              $750
7 December 2020 – 20 December 2020    $1,200              $750
21 December 2020 – 3 January 2021        $1,200              $750

JobKeeper Extension Period 2

4 January 2021 – 17 January 2021        $1,000                 $650
18 January 2021 – 31 January 2021      $1,000                 $650
1 February 2021 – 14 February 2021     $1,000                $650
15 February 2021 – 28 February 2021   $1,000                $650
1 March 2021 – 14 March 2021               $1,000                $650
15 March 2021 – 28 March 2021             $1,000                $650

 

Re-satisfying the Decline in Turnover Test

Under JobKeeper 2.0, an employer, sole trader EBP or eligible entity with an EBP will not only have to satisfy this test a second time to be entitled to the seven JKPs in Extension Period 1, but will have to satisfy it a third time to be entitled to the six JKPs in Extension Period 2. Please see Jobkeeper 3.0 below as this has changed.

The applicable rate of decline in turnover required to qualify for JobKeeper 2.0 is determined in accordance with the existing rules (i.e., 50% for entities with an aggregated turnover of more than
$1 billion, 30% for entities with an aggregated turnover of $1 billion or less and 15% for ACNC registered charities). 

Extension Period 1

For the purposes of being eligible for JKPs in Extension Period 1 (i.e., 28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021), an entity’s:

(a) actual GST Turnover for the June 2020 quarter must be at least 30% less than its GST turnover for the June 2019 quarter; and

(b) actual GST Turnover for the September 2020 quarter must be at least 30% less than its GST turnover for the September 2019 quarter.

Importantly, and unlike the existing JobKeeper Scheme, the decline in turnover calculations above are based on actual GST turnover. Further, it is important to note that both (a) and (b) must be satisfied. Therefore, if an entity already knows that their June 2020 quarter turnover declined by less than 30% compared to the June 2019 quarter, then it will not be eligible for any further JKPs in Extension Period 1 or 2. This is the case even if there is at least a 30% decline for the September quarter comparison.

Note: All turnover comparisons are made on a quarterly basis, i.e., there are no monthly comparisons under JobKeeper 2.0.

Extension Period 2

For the purposes of being eligible for JKPs in Extension Period 2 (i.e., 4 January 2021 to 28 March 2021), an entity’s:

(a) actual GST Turnover for the June 2020 quarter must be at least 30% less than its GST turnover for the June 2019 quarter;

(b) actual GST Turnover for the September 2020 quarter must be at least 30% less than its GST turnover for the September 2019 quarter; and

(c) actual GST Turnover for the December 2020 quarter must be at least 30% less than its GST  turnover for the December 2019 quarter.

As can be seen, the fact that an entity was eligible for JKPs in Extension Period 1 does not mean it is automatically eligible to claim JKPs for Extension Period 2. To do so, it must make a further comparison of its GST Turnover for the December 2020 quarter (as per (c) above).
Also, if an entity was ineligible to claim JKPs for Extension Period 1, it is automatically ineligible to claim JKPs for Extension Period 2. This is the case even if there is at least a 30% decline for the December 2020 quarter comparison. This is because it does not satisfy paragraphs (a) and/or (b) above.

Note: The fact an employer, a sole trader EBP or an eligible entity with an EBP did not make a claim under the existing JobKeeper Scheme does not prevent it from commencing to claim under JobKeeper 2.0 (assuming it satisfies the relevant tests, including the new Decline in Turnover

Note that the conditions above in blue font is what was changed with Jobkeeper 3.0 as detailed below. 

 

1.1 JobKeeper 2.0 and the Fair Work Act

As part of the existing JobKeeper Scheme, a number of amendments were made to the Fair Work Act 2009 (FWA) to allow employers to temporarily vary work arrangements. Currently, these arrangements are due to cease entirely on 28 September 2020. Whilst Treasury has updated its JobKeeper Payment: Changes to the Fair Work Act fact sheet with a comment about the extension of the JobKeeper Scheme to 28 March 2021, there is, however, no indication that these FWA amendments will apply beyond their existing 28 September 2020 cessation date in order to mirror the extension to JKPs.

2. Apprentices and Trainees

As part of the Government’s original COVID-19 Economic Response Package, it was announced that employers:

• with less than 20 employees; and
• with an apprentice or trainee who was in an Australian Apprenticeship as at 1 March 2020;

may be entitled to a subsidy equal to 50% of the apprentice’s or trainee’s wage that was paid during the period from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020, subject to a cap of $7,000 per quarter (i.e., $21,000 over the nine months).
Employers of any size, including Group Training Organisations, that re-engage an eligible out-oftrade apprentice or trainee are also eligible for the subsidy.

Changes announced in the Economic and Fiscal Update

In his Economic and Fiscal Update, the Treasurer announced the following changes to the Apprentices and Trainees wage subsidy:
• From 1 January 2020 to 30 June 2020, small businesses (with less than 20 employees) could claim the wage subsidy for apprentices or trainees who had been in-training with the business as at 1 March 2020.
• From 1 July 2020 to 31 March 2021, small and medium-sized businesses (with less than 200 employees) can claim the wage subsidy for apprentices or trainees who have been intraining with the business as at 1 July 2020.

The subsidy will continue to be 50% of the apprentice’s or trainee’s wages subject to the $7,000 per quarter cap. Employers of any size, including Group Training Organisations, that re-engage an eligible out-of-trade apprentice or trainee will continue to be eligible for the subsidy.

3. JobSeeker Payment

On 20 March 2020, Newstart Allowance was re-branded as the JobSeeker Payment (‘JSP’). Then, as part of its original COVID-19 Economic Response Package, the Government announced that the JSP would be increased by a new temporary Coronavirus Supplement of $550 per fortnight commencing from 27 April 2020. The Coronavirus Supplement was to remain in place until 24 September 2020.
Recipients of other support payments, such as Youth Allowance and Austudy, were also eligible to receive the new $550 Coronavirus Supplement.
A number of other concessions were offered such as a waiver on asset testing, the liquid assets waiting period and the ordinary waiting period.
Changes announced to the Coronavirus supplement
The Government recently announced the following changes in relation to the Coronavirus Supplement:
• The Coronavirus Supplement will continue to be paid to eligible income recipients until 31 December 2020.
• From 25 September 2020, the Coronavirus Supplement will be $250 per fortnight (reduced from $550).
• From 25 September 2020 to 31 December 2020, recipients of JSP and Youth Allowance (other) will be able to earn up to $300 per fortnight (up from $106 and $143 respectively) without affecting their entitlements.
– both payments will taper at 60 cents for every $1 above $300 per fortnight.
• From 25 September 2020, the asset test will be reinstated for new and existing recipients and the liquid assets waiting period test will be re-instated for new recipients. The ordinary waiting
period will continue to be waived until 31 December 2020.
• From 25 September 2020, the partner income test cut-out will increase to $3,086.11 per fortnight (i.e., $80,238.89 per year) for individuals with no personal income but the taper rate will increase from 25 cents to 27 cents (however, no one will be worse off).
• Jobseekers’ mutual obligation requirements were gradually reintroduced from 9 June 2020
(after having been suspended from 24 March 2020 until 8 June 2020).

 

4. Delivering support for Business Investment

As part of its initial economic response package, the Government introduced two business investment measures, as follows:

1. Greater access to the instant asset write-off (‘IAWO’) by:
– increasing the write-off threshold to $150,000 (up from $30,000).This has now been extended to 31 December 2020; and 

– making the write-off available to businesses with a turnover of less than $500 million (up from $50 million);

for depreciating assets first used (or installed ready for use) on or after 12 March 2020 and before 1 July 2020.

2. Accelerating depreciation deductions by broadly allowing, for new depreciating assets purchased on or after 12 March 2020 and first used (or installed ready for use) on or after 12 March 2020 and before 1 July 2021:
(a) businesses with a turnover of less than $500 million (and at least $10 million) to claim an immediate up-front deduction equal to 50% of the cost of the asset and to claim the remaining 50% over the asset’s effective life; and (b) businesses with a turnover of less than $10 million (that use the simplified depreciation rules) to claim an immediate up-front deduction equal to 57.5% of the asset’s cost and to claim the remaining balance in the following years as part of the small business pool.
If the business does not use the simplified depreciation rules, refer to (a) above.

5. Early access to Super

One aspect of the Government’s Economic Reform Package was to allow individuals to withdraw up to $20,000 (tax-free) from their superannuation funds, subject to meeting certain conditions.
Eligible individuals were able to make one lump sum withdrawal of up to $10,000 in the 2020 income year (i.e., by 30 June 2020) and another lump sum withdrawal of up to $10,000 in the 2021 income year (but not later than 24 September 2020). This access has been extended to 31 December 2020.

6. Supporting the Flow of Credit

To assist small and medium sized businesses (i.e., those with a turnover of up to $50 million) gain access to working capital, the Government introduced the Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme whereby it would guarantee 50% of the amount of new loans made up until 30 September 2020. This has been extended until 30 June 2021.

To be eligible for the guarantee, such loans:
• are capped at $250,000 per borrower;
• can have a term of up to three years with an initial six-month repayment holiday; and
• have to be unsecured.

7. Homebuilder

On 4 June 2020, the Government announced it was introducing the HomeBuilder Scheme. Under this scheme, eligible owner-occupiers are able to receive a grant of $25,000 to build a new home or substantially renovate an existing one. The contract must be signed between 4 June 2020 and 31 December 2020 and construction must have commenced within three months of the contract date.
HomeBuilder will be implemented via a National Partnership Agreement with State and Territory Governments. This approach will utilise existing State and Territory mechanisms to distribute the HomeBuilder payments. Information on when and how to access HomeBuilder will become available through the relevant State or Territory.

 

JobKeeper 3.0

The Government announced adjustments to JobKeeper 2.0 to
expand the eligibility criteria for JKP (now referred to as ‘JobKeeper 3.0’), primarily in the wake of the tougher COVID-19 restrictions recently imposed in Victoria. The adjustments contained within JobKeeper 3.0 will apply nationwide, and the crucial amendments include the following:

• Adjustments to employee eligibility – From 3 August 2020, the relevant date of employment (which is used to determine an employee’s eligibility to JKPs) will move from 1 March 2020 to 1 July 2020. This is designed to increase employee eligibility for both the existing JKP scheme, as well as for the new extension periods from 28 September 2020.
Casual employees will still be required to have been employed on a regular and systematic basis for a minimum of 12 months (as is required under the existing JKP scheme).

• Adjustments to the ‘Decline in Turnover Test’ – To qualify for the JKP in the extension periods, businesses will now only have to demonstrate that their actual GST turnovers have significantly decreased in the previous quarter under JobKeeper 3.0.

For these purposes, the applicable rate of decline in turnover required to qualify for JobKeeper 3.0 is determined in accordance with the existing rules (i.e., 50% for entities with an aggregated turnover of more than $1 billion, 30% for entities with an aggregated turnover of $1 billion or
less and 15% for ACNC-registered charities).

Specifically, to be eligible for the JKP Extension Period 1 (i.e., from 28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021), businesses only need to demonstrate a significant decline in turnover in the September 2020 quarter (whereas under the previously announced JobKeeper 2.0, they would have been required to show that they had suffered a significant decline in turnover in both the June and September 2020 quarters).

To be eligible for the JKP Extension Period 2 (i.e., from 4 January 2021 to 28 March 2021) businesses only need to demonstrate a significant decline in turnover in the December 2020 quarter (whereas under the previously announced JobKeeper 2.0, they would have been
required to show that they had suffered a significant decline in turnover in each of the June, September and December 2020 quarters).

Importantly, the dual payment rate system originally proposed in JobKeeper 2.0 will remain, with the full rate of payment decreasing from $1,500 to $1,200 per fortnight from 28 September 2020 and then to $1,000 per fortnight from 4 January 2021. The proposed reduced rates (being $750 from 28 September 2020 and $650 from 4 January 2021) will also remain for employees and business participants who worked fewer than 20 hours per week in the relevant period.

 

Should you have any questions specific to your business, contact us at questions@accoladeaccounting.com.au or ph Neil at 08 6263 4466.