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JobKeeper is changing. Here’s what you need to know

Posted 3 months ago in Small business by Matthew Prouse
Posted by Matthew Prouse

Many Australian small businesses say JobKeeper has been a lifesaver in these difficult times, and Xero Small Business Insights data seems to bear that out. So it’s good to hear JobKeeper has been extended, with some notable changes. We’ve tried to capture what’s new with the wage-subsidy program below. 

There are some complexities, so we recommend you see your trusted bookkeeper or accountant for the fullest picture, as well as visit the ATO’s JobKeeper extension page

Eyes on September

If you want the JobKeeper changes summarised in 15 words, the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers has captured them nicely:Nothing changes before end-September. Then some employers become ineligible, and some receive less.

You may remember that in your original application for JobKeeper, you had to document a one-time drop in business revenue of at least 30%. It only applied to eligible employees who were with you before 1 March 2020. 

After end-September 2020, you’ll need to document an ongoing actual decline of 30% or more. And the decline must be quarterly, whereas at JobKeeper’s launch, you had more flexibility in choosing a period. It will still apply only to eligible employees who were with you before 1 March.

What does this change look like in practice?

For employers to be eligible for JobKeeper payments from 28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021, they must have recorded an actual decline in turnover of 30% or more in both:

  • the quarter ended 30 June 2020 (compared with the same quarter in 2019) 
  • the quarter ended 30 September 2020 (compared with the same quarter in 2019)

In the new year, the same pattern holds. To be eligible for JobKeeper payments from 4 January to 28 March 2021, you must have also had an actual decline in turnover of 30% or more in the quarter ending 31 December 2020 compared with the same period in 2019. You can still use Xero’s JobKeeper Turnover Calculator to help you crunch the numbers. And note the ATO does allow for alternative tests. 

Smaller subsidy

If you remain eligible for JobKeeper payments after September, you’ll find that the wage subsidy is less generous. The $1,500 flat payment per employee, per fortnight, could drop by more than half. There are no changes to employee eligibility requirements. The changes are as follows.

For eligible employees who work 20 hours or more per week:

  • $1,500 per fortnight payment continues until the fortnight ended 27 September
  • $1,200 per fortnight until 3 January 2021
  • $1,000 per fortnight until 28 March 2021

It remains to be seen whether JobKeeper will extend past March 2021.

For eligible employees who work less than 20 hours per week:

  • $1,500 per fortnight payment continues until the fortnight ended 27 September
  • $750 per fortnight until 3 January 2021
  • $650 per fortnight until 28 March 2021

Remember that as an employer, you must pay your staff before claiming the reimbursement from JobKeeper. So you’ll want to take a close look at your revenue, your payroll and determine how these changes will affect your cash flow. 

Again, it’s advisable to speak with an accountant, bookkeeper or BAS agent to ensure you’re factoring in everything. If you don’t have an advisor, you can find Xero certified ones near you in our Advisor Directory

One comment

Don Munro
August 17, 2020 at 8.16 pm

Your info was good but it focuses only on business’ with employees!! I’m a sole trader on JobKeeper with a turnover that’s down 52%

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