Government will ease JobKeeper standards, including $15 billion to the …


Hundreds of thousands more Victorians will be eligible for the JobKeeper wage subsidy, under changes worth an extra $15 billion.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has announced businesses will only need to show that their GST turnover had fallen over one quarter, instead of multiple, to be eligible for the scheme’s extension.

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Government will ease JobKeeper criteria, adding $15 billion to the …

About JobKeeper
The COVID-19 pandemic in Australia is part of the ongoing worldwide pandemic of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The first confirmed case in Australia was identified on 25 January 2020, in Victoria, when a man who had returned from Wuhan, China, tested positive for the virus.Australian borders were closed to all non-residents on 20 March. Social distancing rules were imposed on 21 March, and state governments started to close ‘non-essential’ services. “Non-essential services” included social gathering venues such as pubs and clubs but unlike many other countries did not include most business operations such as construction, manufacturing and many retail categories.The number of new cases initially grew sharply, then levelled out at about 350 per day around 22 March, and started falling at the beginning of April to under 20 cases per day by the end of the month. A second wave of infections in Victoria instigated by a breakdown in hotel quarantine protocols commenced in late June, and is currently ongoing.As of 6 August 2020, Australia has reported 19,862 cases, 11,112 recoveries, and 255 deaths, with Victoria reporting the highest number of cases.

Workers will also qualify if they were employed on July 1, rather than March 1.

“We believe that about 530,000 extra Victorian employees will now join the JobKeeper program over the September quarter, that means 1.5 million Victorian employees will be using JobKeeper,” he said.

Government will ease JobKeeper criteria, adding $15 billion to the …

“That’s nearly half of the private sector workforce across the whole state.”

The changes will apply across the country, meaning some businesses in other states will qualify, however Mr Frydenberg said he expected $13 billion of the money to flow to Victoria.

For the latest news on the COVID-19 pandemic read our coronavirus update story.

The initial JobKeeper will finish on September 28, with businesses and employees needing to apply for the extension.

The Government initially outlined the JobKeeper extension guidelines on July 21, but says it needs to extend its criteria after the Victoria Government implemented stricter lockdowns across the state this week.

Under the previous guidelines, a business needed to record a loss in the June and September quarters.

Mr Frydenberg has blamed the stage 4 restrictions in Melbourne, and the wider restrictions across Victoria, for the Federal Government changing the scheme’s extension.

“The combined effect of the economic deterioration in Victoria, which will see more firms needing to rely on JobKeeper, and the changes we are making to the program, will see the cost of JobKeeper increase by around $15.6 billion,” he said.

“The introduction of stage 4 restrictions by the Victorian Government will have a severe economic impact on the Victorian and Australian economy.”

The changes will also affect businesses who will apply for the second extension of JobKeeper.

The second extension will begin on January 4 next year.

Under the previous guidelines, a business would have needed to record an actual GST turnover loss for the June, September and December quarters of this year.

Mr Frydenberg said a business would now need to show a loss for only the December quarter to qualify for the scheme in January.

These guidelines also affect non-profit organisations.

Jim Chalmers and Katy Gallagher walk through a courtyard at Parliament House
Labor has backed the expanded JobKeeper eligibility.(ABC News: Ian Cutmore)

Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the changes were a “step in the right direction”.

“To the extent that they’ve relaxed some of the eligibility criteria, that’s a welcome step. But there are other things which trouble us in the changes that the Government announced,” he said.

“And we still remain concerned that a lot of people are still left out of JobKeeper.”

A woman in a black tshirt and denim apron stands behind a cafe counter.
More businesses owners like Sydney cafe owner Gayle Borg, who shut her cafe for six weeks at the height of the pandemic, will be eligible JobKeeper.(ABC News: John Gunn)

Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the revised guidelines as “doing whatever it takes”.

“Our response is to get the right support to all those Australian families, workers and businesses that need us, as these circumstances change,” Mr Morrison said.

“This means more support for more workers and more businesses for longer, as we battle this latest Victorian wave.”

Employee eligibility will also be extended, with a worker qualifying for payments if they have been with their workplace since at least July 1, instead of the March 1 deadline initially slated.

New employees will be eligible for JobKeeper payments dating back to August 3.

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