Ume Loans | Second Chance Loans Australia | COVID-19

JOBKEEPER RULES RELEASED

The Australian Government has finally released the much anticipated Legislative Instrument and accompanying Explanatory Statement for the JobKeeper Payment.   The ATO have also released further information on their website (https://www.ato.gov.au/General/JobKeeper-Payment/).  This is the "nitty-gritty" detail we have been waiting for.  Employers can now commence the process of implementing the JobKeeper payment as follows:

STEP 1: ASSESS ELIGIBILITY OF THE EMPLOYER

To be eligible to receive JobKeeper an employer must meet the following tests:

  • a) On 1 March 2020, you carried on a business in Australia ;.
  • b) You employed at least one eligible employee on this date;
  • c) Your eligible employees are currently employed by your business for the fortnights you claim for;
  • d) Your business has faced a 30% fall in turnover

Business owners actively engaged in the operation of their business are also eligible to claim the JobKeeper payment (i.e. an individual shareholder, director, adult beneficiary or partner).  Criteria (b) above does not apply in this instance.

30% DECLINE IN TURNOVER TEST

This test works by comparing the projected (i.e. estimated) GST turnover of the employer for a month or quarter (the test period) with the actual GST turnover of the comparable month/quarter of 2019 (the comparison period). 

To begin with employers should make comparisons using the following periods:

  • actual GST turnover for March 2020 with actual GST turnover for March 2019
  • projected GST turnover for April 2020 with actual GST turnover for April 2019
  • projected GST turnover for the quarter starting April 2020 with actual GST turnover for the quarter starting April 2019.

If any ONE of these comparisons meets the 30% decline test, then the employer will be eligible from the beginning of the scheme (30 March 2020).  Once the business qualifies there is no need to retest your qualification for the rest of the life of the scheme (from 30 March 2020 to 27 September 2020).  That is, once you are in, you stay in, even if your turnover improves in following months above the 30% decline threshold. 

In limited circumstances the ATO can apply an alternate test where the prior year period is not representative of normal turnover (e.g. there was a drought, or natural disaster affecting the turnover of that period in the prior year), or if the business was not in existence 12 months ago..

If an employer does not qualify at the beginning of the scheme they are able to continually assess their eligibility using the projected turnover for any of the following periods:

  • monthly for May20, June20, July20, August20 and September20;
  • quarterly for 1/4/20-30/6/20 and 1/7/20-30/9/20.

For these periods, an employer will be eligible to receive the JobKeeper Payment commencing from the fortnight that the business self-assesses that it qualifies for the scheme (and notifies the ATO accordingly).  That is, there is no back payment to the start of the scheme once you qualify; you are only paid from that fortnight onwards.

The current fact sheet on the Treasury website states there will be some tolerance where employers, in good faith, estimate a 30% or more fall in turnover but actually experience a slightly smaller fall. We would expect the ATO to recover payments where these estimates were not reasonable we advise that documentation be retained showing how these estimates were calculated and the assumptions involved.


STEP 2: ASSESS ELIGIBILITY OF EMPLOYEES

If the employer qualifies for the JobKeeper scheme, the next step is to assess which of the business' employees are eligible to receive the payment.

Your employee is eligible if they:

  • a) are employed by you (including those on leave, stood down or re-hired)
  • b) were either a
    • permanent full-time or part-time employee at 1 March 2020
    • long-term casual employee (employed on a regular and systematic basis for at least 12 months) as at 1 March 2020 and not a permanent employee of any other employer
  • c) were at least 16 years of age on 1 March 2020
  • d) were an Australian resident as at 1 March 2020 within the meaning of the Social Security Act 1991, which requires that they reside in Australia, and are one of an Australian citizen, the holder of a permanent visa, or a Protected Special Category Visa Holder. More information about these requirements can be found from the Services Australia website under residence descriptions. Your employee can also be an Australian tax resident who is a Special Category (Subclass 444) Visa Holder. Employees who are not permanent residents of Australia must notify you of their visa status to allow you to determine if they are eligible.
  • e) were not in receipt of any of these payments during the relevant JobKeeper fortnight (the employee will become eligible once these payments cease)
    • government parental leave or Dad and partner pay
    • a payment in accordance with Australian worker compensation law for an individual's total incapacity for work

If an employee is assessed as eligible you are required to notify them that you intend nominating them as an eligible employee under the scheme.  This is done by providing them with a JobKeeper Employee Nomination Notice (see attached).  Employers should complete Section A, with Section B, C and D to be completed by the employee.  This Notice should be issued ASAP and returned to the employer by 30 April, 2020.

By completing the form, an employee notifies that they are eligible and are accepting nomination to receive the JobKeeper payment via that employer.  An employee can only nominate one employer if they have multiple jobs. 

  • Casual employees with another full time or part time job MUST nominate the permanent employer rather than the casual employer;
  • Employees with multiple full time or part time jobs can nominate any of their employers (Note:  you are able to receive income from another job while receiving JobKeeper.  It would be beneficial to nominate the lowest paying job to potentially maximise your income.)
Employees should note that once they nominate an employer, they CANNOT change their nomination to another employer.  Even if their employment ends due to termination, redundancy or the employer going bust, they CANNOT nominate another employer.  Employees should therefore carefully consider the longevity of their proposed nominated employer.

As previously mentioned, business owners actively engaged in the operation of their business, and who do not receive a wage, are eligible to claim the JobKeeper payment (i.e. an individual shareholder, adult beneficiary or partner).  Please note that only ONE active business participant is eligible to receive the JobKeeper payment, regardless of the number of actual partners, beneficiaries, directors, shareholders.


STEP 3: ENROLMENT WITH THE ATO

There appears to be a 2 step process for employers to sign up with the ATO for the JobKeeper program (3 steps if you count the already-completed registration to receive information updates!) enrolment then applying.  We can only envisage that this convoluted process is intended to give the ATO sufficient time to get its systems and processes in place, and to enable expedited payments to employers for the first two JobKeeper fortnights.

Enrolment will commence from 20 April, 2020.  Employers can complete this via the ATO Business Portal if you have access; otherwise your accountant can complete this on your behalf via the Tax Agent Portal (once you supply us with the relevant information).  Enrolment must be completed by 30 April 2020 in order to receive the first two JobKeeper payments.

In order to enrol you will need to notify the ATO of:

  • your business bank details to receive the JobKeeper Payment;
  • indicate if you are claiming an entitlement based on business participation, i.e. if you are eligible to receive a JobKeeper Payments as a sole trader, beneficiary, shareholder/director, partner;
  • Specify the estimated number of employees who will be eligible for the first JobKeeper fortnight (30 March 12 April) and the second JobKeeper fortnight (13 April 26 April). 


STEP 4: ENSURE ELIGIBLE EMPLOYEES RECEIVE PAYMENT OF AT LEAST $1,500 PER FORTNIGHT

Eligible employees must receive GROSS pay of at least $1,500 per fortnight, in accordance with your normal pay cycle, comprising:

  • Normal gross wages, allowances etc .for hours actually worked or leave actually taken during the relevant fortnight;
  • Existing salary sacrifice super contribution arrangements;
  • Other existing salary sacrifice arrangements;
  • Any JobKeeper top up to reach the $1,500 minimum gross payment no top up is required if the above amounts already exceed $1,500.

PAYG Withholding is required to be deducted from the total payments, including any JobKeeper top up.  SGC is not required to be paid on any JobKeeper top up.

For the first two JobKeeper fortnights ending 12 April 2020 and 26 April 2020 an employer will need to ensure any back-payments required to reach the $1,500/fortnight threshold are made to employees prior to 30 April, 2020 to be eligible to receive the payment.

For all subsequent JobKeeper fortnights, the employer should ensure each eligible employee receives the minimum of $1,500 PRIOR to the end of the relevant fortnight.

Please note that the ATO will be able to verify that the $1,500 threshold is being met via Single Touch Payroll reporting data.  Action will be taken where an employer does not meet this requirement.


STEP 5: APPLICATION WITH THE ATO

This is the final step of signing up with the ATO.  Application will commence from 4 May 2020.  Again, employers can complete this via the ATO Business Portal if you have access, otherwise your accountant can also complete this on your behalf via the Tax Agent Portal (once you supply us with the relevant information).  Application must be completed by 31 May 2020 in order to receive the first two JobKeeper payments.

This step involves notifying the ATO of the eligible employees who are going to receive the JobKeeper Payment.  If you are a Single Touch Payroll employer, the employee details will already be prefilled in the application form, you will just need to select the relevant employees.  Otherwise you will need to manually complete the employee details.

Once the application has been submitted the employer will need to notify eligible employees within 7 days that they have been formally nominated as eligible employees.


STEP 6:  RECEIVE THE JOBKEEPER PAYMENT FROM THE ATO

Once the employer registers, the ATO will make payment of the JobKeeper subsidy to the employer's bank account, monthly in arrears.  Processing of the first reimbursement ($3,000 per eligible employee) is expected to occur in the first week of May 2020 (although the Rules allow the ATO discretion to make an earlier payment for the month of April 2020).  The ATO will make payment for following months within 14 days of the end of the month.


STEP 7:  MONTHLY REPORTING

Each month, employers will need to complete a JobKeeper Declaration report.  This report will be used by the employer to notify the ATO if any eligible employees change or leave employment.  This will enable calculation of the JobKeeper reimbursement for the relevant month.  You will also need to report your current month's and projected month's turnover. You do not need to retest your reported fall in turnover using this data, but it will be used for statistical purposes by the Government to monitor the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The monthly report will be available for lodgment through the ATO Business Portal or via the Tax Agent Portal

https://www.ato.gov.au/General/JobKeeper-Payment/

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