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Frequently asked questions about Jobkeeper

FOR EMPLOYERS

Question: What’s the difference between JobKeeper and JobSeeker?

Answer: The JobKeeper scheme supports businesses to retain their employees by contributing to their salary and wages and is administered by the ATO. Eligible businesses are required to register with the ATO to receive these payments for their eligible employees.

JobSeeker payments are a form of income support available to eligible individuals and are administered by Services Australia. These payments are paid directly to the individuals and not to their employers.

See also:

Question: I pay my employee $1,400 per fortnight before tax, plus I contribute $133 super per fortnight to meet super guarantee obligations. Does this qualify for the minimum $1,500 payment?

Answer: No. The minimum $1,500 does not include the amount you contribute as super to meet your super guarantee obligations. However, it does include super contributions made under a salary sacrifice arrangement.

Question: Do I need to be registered for GST to qualify for JobKeeper?

Answer: No, you don’t need to be registered for GST, but there are other requirements. See Employers.

Question: I run a business but do not have employees. Am I eligible for JobKeeper payments?

Answer: Yes, you may be eligible for JobKeeper payments where certain conditions are satisfied. See Sole traders and other entities.

Question: Does an employer have to be assessed by the ATO as being eligible before any payments are made?

Answer: Eligibility for JobKeeper payments is a self-assessment process, with the ATO administering the payment. However, if a payment is made and we later determine that the entity was not entitled to that payment (or was entitled to a lesser amount) the entity will be required to repay the overpaid amount.

Question: What if my pay cycles do not correspond with JobKeeper fortnights? Do I have to change my pay cycles?

Answer: You are not required to change your pay cycles to correspond with JobKeeper fortnights. What is important is that you pay your employees at some time during the JobKeeper fortnight.

However, if you usually pay your employees less frequently the payment can be allocated between fortnights in a reasonable manner. For example, if you pay your employees on a monthly cycle, you will still be entitled to receive a JobKeeper payment if your employees received the monthly equivalent of $1,500 per fortnight.

Question: Why do I need to get my employees to fill out the JobKeeper Employee Nomination Notice?

Answer: An employee can only nominate one employer for JobKeeper. The employee must agree to be nominated by you for JobKeeper. If the employee does not complete the nomination notice, you can’t claim JobKeeper for them.

Question: Will the ATO accept a digital self-generated employee nomination notice?

Answer: For practical reasons, an employer may choose to create their own digital employee nomination notice, but it must include key information. See Creating your own employee nomination notice.

Your employee’s signature is not required by the ATO, but can be requested by you. Employees can submit their nomination notice to their employer through their internal business process (for example, a business’s HR portal) or their own form of communication channel (for example, an email).

Question: Can businesses qualify for JobKeeper payments after April, for example, if my business experiences a downturn in the future?

Answer: Yes. If you do not satisfy the turnover test for the current month or quarter, you can still assess your eligibility at a later date. To qualify later, the turnover month can be May, June, July, August or September 2020, provided the fortnight you are qualifying for has ended that month or an earlier month. If the turnover for a quarter is being used, it can be the quarter:

  • from 1 April 2020 to 30 June 2020
  • from 1 July 2020 to 30 September 2020, but only if first seeking to qualify for fortnights ending in July 2020 or later.

Once you satisfy the decline in turnover test, you do not need to retest again.

Question: Do I have to show that it is COVID-19 that caused the decline in the turnover of my business?

Answer: No. It does not matter whether it is COVID-19 or the subsequent effect on the economy that has caused the drop in turnover, provided the turnover has fallen by the required percentage and you satisfy the other eligibility criteria.

Question: My business suffered a steep decline in turnover in March, but I’ve changed to a new business model and I may build the business up again soon. Does this mean I lose JobKeeper?

Answer: No. You only need to satisfy the decline in turnover test once to be entitled to JobKeeper. For example, satisfying it for March 2020 (compared in March 2019) is sufficient, even if your business recovers to previous levels after this.

There are ongoing reporting obligations for current and projected GST turnover, but even where these show a recovery of turnover they don’t affect eligibility.

Question: What happens if my predicted fall in turnover happens to be incorrect, so that the fall ends up being less than the 30% or 50%?

Answer: This does not necessarily mean you are ineligible for JobKeeper.

Your projected GST turnover is a point-in-time test and needs to be a reasonable assessment of what was likely at the time you calculated the test. If, at a later stage, it eventuates that your actual turnover for your test period is greater than your prediction of your projected turnover, you do not lose access to JobKeeper. We will accept your assessment of these turnovers unless we have reason to believe that your calculation of your projected GST turnover was not reasonable.

If there is a significant difference between your projected turnover and what eventuates, we may need to assess whether your assessment was reasonable, so you need to keep good records of your calculations.

Integrity rules are in place to deny or reduce an entitlement to JobKeeper payments if schemes are contrived to ensure payment conditions are satisfied, such as temporarily reducing or deferring turnover. Exceeding your turnover predictions by itself does not trigger these integrity rules.

Our compliance focus will be particularly directed toward schemes where there has not been a genuine fall in turnover in substance, but arrangements are contrived to ensure the turnover test is satisfied.

FOR EMPLOYEES

Question: My employer has asked me to nominate with them for JobKeeper. Do I have to do it? What happens if I don’t?

Answer: It is not compulsory to nominate your employer for JobKeeper. If you don’t nominate them, they cannot receive the JobKeeper payment for you. If you usually earn less than $1,500 a fortnight, this means that your employer will probably not increase your pay to at least $1,500 per fortnight (before tax), unlike for other employees who do nominate.

Question: I am an employee of more than one employer. Can I change the employer who receives the payment for me?

Answer: No – once you have agreed to be nominated by one of your eligible employers and completed the Employee nomination notice, you cannot change the employer who is claiming JobKeeper payments for you. If you have an employer you are permanently employed with you cannot nominate your casual employer.

Question: I’m not a long-term employee. Can my employer claim JobKeeper for me?

Answer: This depends on whether you are employed casually.

If you are a casual employee, you must have been employed on a regular and systematic basis by your employer since 1 March 2019.

If you are a permanent employee or employed on a fixed contract, you must have been employed by your employer as at 1 March 2020.

Question: I am a casual employee. Can my employer claim JobKeeper for me?

Answer: It depends on how long you have worked for them and your pattern of work. Your employer may be entitled to receive JobKeeper payments for you if you are a long-term casual employee. That means you have been employed on a regular and systematic basis by your employer since 1 March 2019.

Question: I am a casual employee of one employer and a permanent employee of another. Can both my employers claim JobKeeper for me?

Answer: You are not eligible to participate in the JobKeeper scheme through your casual employer if you have permanent employment.

Question: I have two casual jobs and one employer is claiming JobKeeper payments for me. Do I have to quit my other job?

Answer: No – you can have two jobs. However, you can only complete an Employee nomination notice for one employer.

Question: The business I work for has changed ownership since 1 March 2020. Am I still an eligible employee?

Answer: Yes, you are still an eligible employee of a business for the purposes of the JobKeeper scheme (if all other conditions are also satisfied). The acquiring entity will be treated as having employed you prior to the business changing owners.

For casual employees, in determining whether you are a long term casual employee (that is, employed by an entity on a regular and systematic basis during the 12 month period ending on 1 March 2020), the time you worked before the business changed ownership is counted.

Question: What happens if I change jobs during the JobKeeper payment period?

Answer: If you change jobs after 1 March 2020, your new employer will not be eligible to claim JobKeeper payments for you. However there are some limited exceptions that may apply when you remain employed within the same corporate group.

Question: My employment has changed from casual to permanent after 1 March 2020. What effect does this have?

Answer: Unless you were a long-term casual at 1 March 2020 you will not be eligible for JobKeeper, even if you subsequently become a permanent employee.

Question: I have been stood down and my employer is claiming JobKeeper payments for me. Can I earn income from another job while my employer gets JobKeeper payments for me and continues to pay me?

Answer: You can earn additional income without your eligibility being affected as long as you maintain your employment (including while being stood down) with your JobKeeper-eligible employer.

Question: Who pays JobKeeper to me and how much do I receive?

Answer: If your employer is eligible to receive a JobKeeper payment for you, you should, in most cases, receive an amount at least equivalent to the JobKeeper payment before tax in your normal pay.

We do not pay the JobKeeper payment to you and you cannot apply to the ATO to get it. Refer to How much you will get from your employer for further information.

Question: Why have I received less than $1,500 from my employer?

Answer: The payment you receive from your employer is generally treated the same as salary or wages for tax purposes, so your employer must withhold income tax and any other amounts that are ordinarily withheld from your wage or salary. Examples of amounts withheld from salary are HECS-HELP repayments and salary sacrifice arrangements.

Check your payslip for your payment before income tax and any other amounts that are ordinarily withheld from your wage or salary.

Question: My employer said she will pay me less than $1,500 a fortnight and she will pay me more later after they have received JobKeeper payments. Is that right?

Answer: No. JobKeeper payments reimburse your employer after they pay your wages or salary. Your employer is only eligible if they pay you at least $1,500 (before taxes and other amounts ordinarily withheld) each fortnight.

For the first month there is a special arrangement. If employers pay employees late (up to 8 May) they can still qualify for JobKeeper.

Question: My employer told me that he will pay me $600 a fortnight, claim JobKeeper, and pocket the difference to help get his business back on its feet. Is this okay?

Answer: No, it is not. Employers are not eligible for payments if they don’t pay the full amount to employees. Your employer must pay at least $1,500 (before tax) a fortnight to his eligible employees. The JobKeeper payment reimburses your employer for this payment.

FOR SOLE-TRADERS

Question: I am a sole trader – am I eligible for JobKeeper?

Answer: As a sole trader, you may be eligible for JobKeeper as an eligible business participant. You can easily check your eligibility online – see JobKeeper Payment – Sole traders and other entities.

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