Under JobKeeper 1.0, all eligible employees – whether full time, part-time or long-term casuals – were entitled to receive a JobKeeper payment of $1,500 (gross) per fortnight.
However, the new JobKeeper Rules reduce, in two stages, the amount payable for JobKeeper 2.0 from $1,500 to one of two JobKeeper payment rates which depend on the hours the employee works, has paid leave and paid absence on public holidays (see details below).
This two-tiered payment is intended to significantly limit the circumstances in which certain part-time employees or long term casual employees receive a higher amount through the JobKeeper scheme, as compared to their usual wages for their ordinary hours of work prior to COVID 19 impacting their workplace.
The first stage of the reduced rate takes effect from the JobKeeper fortnight beginning on or after 28 September 2020 (and ending on or before 3 January 2021) and the second stage takes effect from the JobKeeper fortnight beginning on or after 4 January 2021 (and ending on or before 28 March 2021).
The two-tiered JobKeeper payment for the two extension periods is set out in the table below (in gross amounts):
||From 28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021
||From 4 January 2021 to 28 March 2021
|80 hours or more in the “reference period”
||$1,200 per fortnight
||$1,000 per fortnight
|Less than 80 hours in the “reference period”
||$750 per fortnight
||$650 per fortnight
To determine the appropriate JobKeeper amount, there are two reference periods that include the 28-day period ending at the end of the most recent pay cycle for the employee that ended before 1 March 2020 or 1 July 2020.
All employees will be assessed based on their hours of work (see further comments below) in the reference period that is the most beneficial to the employee – that is, their payment rate for JobKeeper 2.0 will be assessed based on their hours worked (including paid absences for leave or public holidays) in the 28 day period before either 1 March 2020 or 1 July 2020 – whichever is greater. Employers do not have discretion to choose the applicable reference period – they must use the reference period that results in the employee receiving the higher rate of JobKeeper payment.
For example, if an employee that was eligible for JobKeeper from 1 March 2020 only worked 20 hours in February, but worked 80 hours in June, the employer must nominate the payment rate based on June’s hours (being the most beneficial reference period). Therefore, the employee will be entitled to receive $1,200 per fortnight from 28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021. If the employer continues to qualify in the second extension period, the employee will be entitled to receive $1,000 per fortnight from 4 January 2021 to 28 March 2021.
There is no further testing of the hours of work from the JobKeeper fortnight beginning on or after 4 January 2021 to determine the rate of JobKeeper payments – employees are only tested once.
What is included towards the hours of work in the reference period?
The new Rules have confirmed an employer’s entitlement in relation to the two different JobKeeper payment rates is determined by reference to the actual hours the employee worked, and any hours for which they received paid leave (e.g. annual, long service, sick, carers and other forms of paid leave) or paid absence for public holidays. That is, any paid leave or paid absences for public holidays must also be included when calculating the total number of hours for the purposes of the 80-hour test.