Thursday, 20 August 2020

Update 11: Changes to the JobKeeper Rules; more employees qualify

On 14 August 2020, the Government registered the Coronavirus Economic Response Package (Payments and Benefits) Amendment Rules (No 7) 2020 (Amendment Rules), which implement changes to the Coronavirus Economic Response Package (Payments and Benefits) Rules 2020 (JobKeeper Rules).

The changes expand the employee eligibility test from 3 August 2020 to include those employees who have been on the books as of 1 July 2020.

We discuss the changes below.

  1. Employees who started after 1 March but before 1 July 2020 may now be eligible

The relevant date of employment for an eligible employee has changed from 1 March to 1 July 2020. Previously, employees were required to be on the business’s books as of 1 March 2020 in order to be eligible.

This means that an employee will be an ‘eligible employee’ for a JobKeeper fortnight starting on or after 3 August 2020 if they:

  • are employed by the business (including those stood down or re-hired) at any time in the JobKeeper fortnight;
  • were employed by the business as either a full-time, part-time, or fixed-term employee, or a long term casual employee on 1 July 2020 (employed on a regular and systematic basis during the 12 month period that ended 1 July) and not a permanent employee of any other employer;
  • did not receive government parental leave/Dad and Partner Pay, or workers’ compensation payments for total incapacity, during the JobKeeper fortnight.
  • agree to be nominated by the employer;
  • were 18 years or older on 1 July 2020 (if they were 16 or 17 they can also qualify if they were independent or not studying full time on 1 July 2020);
  • were an Australian resident on 1 July 2020 and are either an Australian citizen, the holder of a permanent visa, or a Protected Special Category Visa Holder.

Employees that were previously eligible under the 1 March test continue to be eligible.

  1. Employees can re-nominate with a new employer

An employee who has previously given an entity a nomination notice is permitted to re-nominate with a new entity where they satisfied the 1 March 2020 test for the old entity. The employee must not have been employed by the old entity at any time from the start of 1 July 2020 to the time of giving the notice to the new entity.

Where the employee provides an employee nomination notice to the new entity, they are excluded from being an eligible employee of the old entity for any fortnight ending after giving the notice to the new entity.

  1. Employers must issue a nomination notice by tomorrow to all newly eligible employees

If an employer has already enrolled to participate in JobKeeper and has additional employees that has become eligible on or after 3 August 2020 using the 1 July test, they must provide an employee nomination notice to their newly eligible employees by tomorrow, 21 August 2020.

Employees who have previously returned an employee nomination notice before 3 August 2020 do not need to give their employee another employee nomination notice.

We note that employers do not need to provide the employee nomination notice to the ATO, but they do need to keep a copy of the completed form as part of their legal record keeping obligations.

  1. Employers have until 31 August 2020 to meet the wage condition for new eligible employees under the 1 July 2020 eligibility test

For the fortnights commencing on 3 August 2020 and 17 August 2020, the ATO is allowing employers 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.

To claim JobKeeper payments for the August JobKeeper fortnights, including for new eligible employees included in the JobKeeper scheme under the 1 July eligibility test, employers must enrol for JobKeeper in respect to the new employees by 31 August.

What does this mean for employers?

Employers need to begin determining whether any of their employees are newly eligible.

If employers determine that previously ineligible employees are now eligible, they must:

  • issue an employee nomination notice to the newly eligible employees by tomorrow; and
  • enrol and pay the newly eligible employees at least $1,500 per fortnight by 31 August 2020.

This article was produced by HR Legal. It is intended to provide general information only in summary format on legal issues. It does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on as such.