Finance Work What employers must do before they can receive JobKeeper
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What employers must do before they can receive JobKeeper

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Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton says banks should be publicly shamed if they don't provide bridging finance for businesses waiting for JobKeeper. Photo: Getty/TND
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The Australian Taxation Office has asked businesses to organise their JobKeeper paperwork now so payments can be administered “to the right people” once the scheme begins in May.

Although eligible employers can not yet enrol workers in the $130 billion wage subsidy scheme, ATO Deputy Commissioner James O’Halloran said bosses must act to ensure they meet all the criteria.

“The government’s objective and our focus is to get money into the hands of the right employers, for the right employees in a timely matter to make a difference,” Mr O’Halloran said.

So what can employers do before JobKeeper enrolments open on April 20?

And how can employees ensure they receive the payments?

What are the requirements for employers?

Employers hoping to sign up to the $1500 per fortnight payment for every eligible worker on their payroll can enrol in the program from April 20.

To be eligible, employers must have paid their employees a minimum of $1500 per fortnight (before tax) over the period from March 30 until the end of April, before the subsidy kicks in.

Businesses can claim these backdated payments with the ATO and will be reimbursed during the first round of JobKeeper payments.

Bosses are also required to ensure their workplace meets eligibility conditions, which include:

  • Private sector companies, partnerships, trusts and not-for-profits with less than $1 billion in turnover must have lost 30 per cent of revenue compared to this time last year as a result of COVID-19
  • Businesses with more than $1 billion in turnover must have lost 50 per cent of revenue
  • Registered charities must have lost 15 per cent of revenue.

Based on the information provided to the ATO, companies will receive a notice of acknowledgement and acceptance into JobKeeper once they have enrolled.

Do employees need to register their interest?

Not with the ATO.

Employees interested in learning more about their eligibility – and whether they qualify for the scheme – should speak to their employer.

Workers and businesses will be required to complete a JobKeeper employee nomination notice, which solidifies the legal obligation to deliver payments over the six-month term.

Mr O’Halloran said effective co-operation will allow a seamless transition for employers and employees onto the program.

“We just want to make sure people are eligible, and we can streamline the process to ultimately get the payment to them,” Mr O’Halloran said.

Is there any oversight for employers?

Mr O’Halloran said the ATO will implement oversight mechanisms that ensure the $1500 payments are delivered “in the right circumstances under the law”.

“[The ATO] will have in place appropriate checks and balances to monitor payments and will monitor any claims over the months that attract our attention,” Mr O’Halloran said.

However, Centre for Future Work senior economist Alison Pennington said eligible employers could weaponise the subsidy to slash workers or alter working conditions.

“We could see not only increased employer power to pocket this subsidy and get more control over their workers … but [they may] not even pass on the full volume of the subsidy,” Ms Pennington told 3CR.

What else should I know?

The Morrison government moved to add new provisions to the Fair Work Act when it passed the JobKeeper legislation through parliament last week.

Among these new rules, employers will be allowed to:

  • Enact ‘JobKeeper enabling stand down directions’ if an employee cannot perform their usual hours or if their business is affected because of coronavirus restrictions
  • Order workers to perform duties at different days and times
  • Request employees to take annual leave (ensuring that employee maintains two weeks’ holiday balance).

Workers can take any disputes over JobKeeper provisions to the Fair Work Commission.