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COVID-19: JobKeeper Wage Subsidy

COVID-19: JobKeeper Wage Subsidy

Working people demanded the government announce a wage subsidy to help workers put food on the table and a roof over their heads.

We help answer all your JobKeeper questions:

What is it?

  • A wage subsidy which pays employers to keep people employed during the COVID-19 crisis
  • Flat rate of $1500 per fortnight (before tax)
  • Employers who opt in to the scheme must pay eligible workers at least $1500 per fortnight before tax (ie. they must pass on the $1500 at a minimum)

How much is it?

  • If you’re still working and earn more than $1500 per fortnight your pay and superannuation will not change. The government will pay $1500 to your employer per fortnight to subsidise your employment.
  • If you’re still working and earn less than $1500 per fortnight or have had your hours reduced so that you earn less than $1500 per fortnight your employer must still pass on all $1500 to you. You will receive superannuation payments based on the number of hours worked, unless you negotiate with your employer.
  • If you have been stood down and not working, you will receive the $1500 per fortnight. Superannuation does not need to be paid on this amount, unless negotiated with your employer.

Which employees are eligible?

  • Employed by an eligible employee at 1 March 2020
  • Sole traders, full-time, part-time, casuals employed on a regular and systematic basis for longer than 12 months as at 1 March 2020
  • You must be at least 16 years old
  • You must be an Australian citizen, permanent visa holder or New Zealander 

We think that the JobKeeper wage subsidy must be extended to all workers including all casuals and temporary visa holders, they also need to pay their bills.

Can employers choose to opt in certain eligible employees?

  • One in, all in
  • Employers have to choose all eligible employees for the JobKeeper payment - they can't pick and choose
  • Employees can opt out if the want eg. because they have multiple employers and have agreed to get JobKeeper from another employer (if you have more than one job you can only claim JobKeeper through one employer - choose to claim JobKeeper through your primary employer or the one where you have a permanent contract)

Which employers are eligible?

  • Businesses, NFPs and charities
  • For organisations that ordinarily have a turnover of less than $1 billion they must have lost 30% or more of their turnover
  • For organisations that ordinary have a turnover of more than $1 billion they must have lost 50% or more of their turnover
  • For registered charities the threshold is a decline in turnover of 15% or more

How do you access the payment?

  • Employers register intent to claim with the ATO and provides evidence of their loss of turnover
  • Registering is entirely voluntary 
  • Your employer notifies you that they have nominated you as one of their eligible employees
  • You agree to that nomination by signing an ATO declaration form (downloaded off the ATO website)
  • ATO pays your employer $1500 per eligible employee
  • Employees will then receive at least $1500 from their employer. Eligible employees will receive it through their normal pay processes.

When will it be paid?

  • Backpaid to 30 March 2020
  • Businesses will begin receiving money from 1 May 2020

Can employers keep part of the payment?

  • No, they can’t withhold any of the money or ask you to pay any back

Can I claim JobKeeper from more than 1 employer?

  • You can only receive JobKeeper through 1 employer
  • Choose to receive it from your primary employer
  • Unless you are employed somewhere as a casual and somewhere as a permanent employee, in that situation you must choose to receive JobKeeper through your permanent employment.

What if my employer already made me redundant?

  • They can re-engage you if you were made redundant after 1 March 2020
  • What happens with your redundancy payment will have to be negotiated

Do I accrue annual leave whilst receiving JobKeeper?

  • You accrue leave as per normal when you are receiving JobKeeper, even if you are stood down from work or your hours of work have reduced.

Can my employer reduce my hourly rate of pay whilst on JobKeeper?

  • Your employer cannot reduce your hourly rate of pay and you should not agree to it. 
  • Your employer cannot unilaterally reduce your pay.
  • You deserve to be paid your correct hourly rate of pay for work performed.  
  • JobKeeper is a subsidy to help your employer pay your wage.

Can I get another job whilst receiving JobKeeper?

  • Yes, you can earn as much as you want, just don’t resign from your other job
  • JobKeeper is not income tested

What are my rights if I speak up about JobKeeper being misused and the employer takes action against me?

Your right to get JobKeeper payment is a workplace right. This means that you are protected against any negative treatment for asking about it or asserting your right to it.

Your employer cannot dismiss you in order to prevent you from asserting your right to receive JobKeeper payment. Your employer must not make a misleading representation to you about your workplace right to JobKeeper payment.

If any of the above happens you may be able to make a General Protections claim. Share your story at, call the Young Workers Centre or your union.


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