The new $750-a-week ‘JobKeeper’ payment has instantly turned around the fortunes of hundreds of thousands of workers who last week stood unemployed at Centrelink.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison unveiled a $130 billion wage subsidy plan on Monday, to aid employers in keeping their staff in a job – even if they are not working – during the coronavirus crisis.
Mr Morrison said he expects the extraordinary plan to pay six million wages over the next six months as Australian businesses go into a forced ‘hibernation’.
The announcement came as a huge relief for hairdresser Rahil Zadeh, as it means she will be able to ensure the jobs of her three full-time staff who she last week had to let go.
Bondi hair salon owner Rahil Zadeh (pictured) will be able to offer her fulltime employees back their jobs after the government announced a $130 billion scheme to pay Australians while they are out-of-work
Queues such as this one outside the Bondi Junction Centrelink office were commonplace last week, but many of these workers will now be covered by the government’s wage subsidy plan
‘It is good for my staff because at least I can keep their job now, and it also will keep them more motivated during this time off,’ Ms Zadeh, owner of Antler Hair in Bondi, told Daily Mail Australia.
‘Just last week I told them to go to Centrelink to get the Newstart Allowance, but they feel much better knowing they can come back to work now.
‘They are going to get $750-a-week and when we come back they will have a job, so that will give them peace of mind.’
Ms Zadeh’s business was among thousands across the country to be affected in an instant because of the government’s strict measures to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Pubs, restaurants, cafes, gyms, swimming pools, nail salons and massage parlours – just to name a few – were among the business whose trade was stopped instantly or greatly reduced.
City Gym owner Billy Kokkinis said the government’s funding would be a big help for his staff, but hoped the payments would not last too long.
‘It is a great help for my staff, many of them were getting ready to go on the doll and queued up at Centrelink last week,’ Mr Kokkinis said.
‘I guess $750 means they can pay some rent and get food on the table, but many of them have mortgage repayments and are used to earning way more than that.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the payments were crucial to keep the ‘economy running’ and are expected to help out as many as six million unemployed Australians in the months to come
City Gym owner Billy Kokkinis (right) was among those who had to lay off staff following the government’s strict measures on gyms and other businesses to stop the spread of COVID-19, and believes the new government initiatives are great for his staff – but it’s too late for some
CORONAVIRUS CASES IN AUSTRALIA: 4,514
New South Wales: 2,032
Western Australia: 355
South Australia: 305
Australian Capital Territory: 80
Northern Territory: 15
TOTAL CASES: 4,516
‘A long term solution has to be to get the doors back open to my gym, to get some revenue flowing back in, but I know the government is doing a lot at the minute.
‘But I know for a lot of small businesses this is too late, they are done.
‘I know personal trainers and sole traders that have already started moving out of their business, they know it’s over and that is really sad.’
Under the government’s new scheme the six million workers estimated to lose their employment after March 1 will have their job guaranteed, and get $1500 a fortnight to pay their bills.
The prime minister said the latest package – which takes the government’s spend to $320 billion during the coronavirus pandemic – was vital to keep the economy alive.
‘We want to keep the economy running through this crisis, it may run in idle for some time, but it must run,’ Mr Morrison said.
‘We will give millions of eligible businesses and their workers a lifeline to not only get through this crisis, but bounce back together on the other side.’
Among the workers likely to benefit from this package are the 20,000 Qantas and Jetstar employees temporarily stood down from late March until the end of May.
There are currently more than 4,500 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Australia, with a total of 19 deaths linked to the virus
Hospitality workers are also likely to benefit, as long as they are not on temporary migrant visas.
The grants will be available to businesses who have an annual turnover of less than $1 billion, and who have a 30 per cent downturn in revenue for one month minimum.
Companies, partnerships, trusts and sole traders can all get the subsidy if they have also been hit by the coronavirus fallout.
Charities and not-for-profits can also get it.
The idea is that the payments will allow business to keep a connection with workers so they can be easily re-instated when the coronavirus restrictions are lifted.
Employers can register to receive the funding through the Australian Tax Office.
What do business owners have to do to get the payment?
To receive the JobKeeper Payment, employers must:
• Register an intention to apply on the ATO website and assess that they have or will experience the required turnover decline.
• Provide information to the ATO on eligible employees. This includes information on the number of eligible employees engaged as at 1 March 2020 and those currently employed by the business (including those stood down or rehired).
For most businesses, the ATO will use Single Touch Payroll data to pre-populate the employee details for the business.
• Ensure that each eligible employee receives at least $1,500 per fortnight (before tax). For employees that were already receiving this amount from the employer then their income will not change.
For employees that have been receiving less than this amount, the employer will need to top up the payment to the employee up to $1,500, before tax.
And for those employees earning more than this amount, the employer is able to provide them with a top-up.
• Notify all eligible employees that they are receiving the JobKeeper Payment.
• Continue to provide information to the ATO on a monthly basis, including the number of eligible employees employed by the business.