The federal government’s $130-billion support package aimed at helping employers retain their staff has passed the Parliament.
Last week, Parliament passed the legislation to support the Morrison government’s historic JobKeeper Payment with bipartisan support.
Under the new package, the government will subsidise wages with a flat fortnightly JobKeeper payment of $1,500 per employee for businesses adversely affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
The fortnightly payment is the equivalent of about 70 per cent of the median wage in Australia and represents about 100 per cent of the median wage in some of the most heavily affected sectors, such as retail, hospitality and tourism.
It will be available to full-time and part-time workers, sole traders, and casuals who have been with their employer for 12 months or more. It will also apply to those working in the not-for-profit sector.
Approximately 730,000 businesses have already expressed interest in receiving the payment.
“Combined with the government’s previous actions, this totals $320 billion or 16.4 per cent of GDP in economic support to Australian businesses, households and individuals affected by the coronavirus,” federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said.
“[It] puts Australia in the best possible position to bounce back stronger than ever.”
Commenting on the passage of legislation through Parliament, the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell, said the JobKeeper Payment will allow small businesses to continue operating and paying their staff while also allowing small businesses to remain connected with staff who have been stood down so they can be re-employed when the health crisis dissipates and the economy recovers.
“There has been a lot of confusion out there about eligibility for JobKeeper, but the intent of this policy is to be inclusive of small and micro-businesses under financial strain in this difficult time. That includes sole traders, partnerships, contractors, freelancers and trusts,” Ms Carnell said.
“My message to small businesses is: if you think you might be eligible, visit the ATO website and express your interest. You just need your ABN and contact details. The ATO will get back to you.
“Importantly, small businesses that have signed up for JobKeeper will need to make the payments now before they are reimbursed by the ATO in May.”
Ms Carnell also said the JobKeeper scheme is the biggest Australia has seen, and she congratulated Parliament for passing the legislation with bipartisan support.
“Above all, we know that there’s never been a tougher time to be in business, but the JobKeeper package provides the practical financial support and the hope small businesses need as we wait for this health crisis to pass,” she said.
The $130-billion JobKeeper scheme followed a tripled-pronged boost to stimulate the flow of credit to households and businesses and provide support for low-income households, as well as financial sector assistance from the Reserve Bank of Australia.
Malavika Santhebennur is the features editor on the mortgages titles at Momentum Media.
Before joining the team in 2019, Malavika held roles with Money Management and Benchmark Media. She has been writing about financial services for the past six years.
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