JobKeeper 2.0 – tweaks to the ‘Decline in Turnover’ Tests
On 21 July 2020, the Government announced that the JobKeeper Payment (‘JKP’) would be extended until 28 March 2021 (i.e., for a further six months beyond its original end date of 27 September 2020).
As a result, JKPs will now be made over two separate extension periods, being:
- Extension period 1 – which covers the seven new JobKeeper fortnights that commence on 28 September 2020 and end on 3 January 2021; and
- Extension period 2 – which covers the six new JobKeeper fortnights that commence on 4 January 2021 and end on 28 March 2021.
Furthermore, on 7 August 2020, the Government announced adjustments to JobKeeper 2.0 to expand the eligibility criteria for JKP, primarily in the wake of the tougher COVID-19 restrictions recently imposed in Victoria.
These adjustments will apply nationwide, and the crucial amendments include adjustments to the proposed new ‘Decline in Turnover’ tests applicable from 28 September 2020.
More specifically, to qualify for the JKP in the two new extension periods (outlined above), businesses will now only have to demonstrate that their actual GST turnovers have decreased (in accordance with the applicable rates) in the previous quarter.
For these purposes, the applicable rate of decline in turnover required to qualify for the JKP is determined in accordance with the existing rules (e.g., 30% for entities with an aggregated turnover of $1 billion or less).
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 an applicable decline in turnover in the September 2020 quarter.
This differs from the previously announced JobKeeper 2.0, where they would have been required to show that they had suffered an applicable 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 an applicable 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 an applicable 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.
Expanded eligible employee definition for JobKeeper
Additional recently implemented JobKeeper changes mean more employees will qualify for JobKeeper payments from 3 August 2020.
This is primarily because:
q the eligible employee test has been extended from 3 August 2020 to include eligible employees who were employed on 1 July 2020 (in addition to the original 1 March 2020 employment date) who are not currently nominated for the JKP by another entity; and
q from the fortnights commencing on 3 August 2020 and 17 August 2020 (i.e., JobKeeper fortnights 10 and 11) employers will have had until 31 August 2020 to meet the ‘wage condition’ for all new eligible employees included in the JobKeeper scheme under the 1 July eligibility test.
Importantly, as a result of these recent tweaks to the JobKeeper scheme, participating employers should have provided any new eligible employees with an employee nomination form.
The onus is on employers to ensure all of their employees now eligible for JKPs as a result of the new 1 July test are given the opportunity to be included.