The rules governing the Coronavirus Economic Response Package, incorporating the JobKeeper payment scheme have recently been released.
The JobKeeper payments are to be administered by the ATO. The ATO have provided information regarding how the scheme will operate and information can be found here.

Further guidelines regarding the operation of the JobKeeper payment scheme are expected to be issued by the ATO in the coming days. We will continue to provide further updates as this information is released.

Eligible employers
Employers will be eligible for the JobKeeper payment if all of the following apply:

• On 1 March 2020, you carried on a business in Australia or were a not-for-profit organisation operated in Australia.
• You employed at least one eligible employee on 1 March 2020.
• Your eligible employees are currently employed by your business for the fortnights you claim for (including those who are stood down or re-hired).
• Your business has met the required decline in turnover (see below)
• Your business is not in one of the ineligible categories.
• You pay eligible employees at least $1,500 before tax for the fortnights you start to claim for, and continue to claim for; and
• You successfully enrol for the JobKeeper scheme and apply for JobKeeper payments.

Eligible employees
If your business is an eligible employer you will be eligible for the JobKeeper payment in respect of employees if the employees:

• are currently employed by your business (including those stood down or re-hired)
• are either:
- permanent full-time or part-time employees of your business (or another entity in your wholly owned group) who were employees as at 1 March 2020
- casually employed by your business (or another entity in your wholly owned group) 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
• were at least 16 years of age as at 1 March 2020
• 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, a Protected Special Category Visa Holder (Subclass 444)
• were not in receipt of any of these payments during the JobKeeper fortnight:
- 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
• have not agreed with any other employer to be nominated as an eligible employee for the JobKeeper payment; and
• complete the JobKeeper employee nomination notice.

Turnover calculation and requirements

At the time you enrol in the JobKeeper payment scheme, you need to confirm that your business in a relevant period has had, or is likely to have, a:

• 30% fall in turnover (for an aggregated turnover of $1 billion or less)
• 50% fall in turnover (for an aggregated turnover of more than $1 billion), or
• 15% fall in turnover (for ACNC-registered charities other than universities and schools).

You only need to satisfy this requirement once – you don't need to retest turnover each month. Once your business becomes eligible for JobKeeper and is enrolled in the scheme you will continue to receive JobKeeper payments until the scheme ceases.

How you choose to project your fall in turnover is not dependent on whether you report a quarterly or monthly BAS. If you work out that you qualify for the JobKeeper payments for the first fortnight because your turnover has declined by the relevant amount, you remain eligible and do not need to keep testing turnover in following months. However, you will have ongoing monthly reporting requirements.

Sole traders
Sole traders can be eligible for the JobKeeper payment if their business has experienced a downturn in accordance with the eligibility criteria.

Business owners actively engaged in their business
Other businesses (e.g. company, trust or partnership) can also qualify for JobKeeper payments where a business owner (shareholder, adult beneficiary or partner) is actively engaged in the business, or a director is actively engaged in the business. This is limited to one entitlement for each entity even if there are multiple business owners or participants.

What employers need to do now
We recommend that you do the following:

1) Register your interest and subscribe to JobKeeper updates here, even if you subsequently determine that you are not eligible to participate.

2) Check that you and your employees meet the eligibility requirements.
This includes:
-  compiling information on your actual turnover for March 2020, your forecasted turnover for the coming months or quarter and your actual turnover for the corresponding periods last year
- starting to collect information on your employees to determine if they are eligible

3) Where you expect to be eligible, continue to pay at least $1,500 to each eligible employee per JobKeeper fortnight (refer previous comments regarding how to pay employees)

4) Notify your eligible employees that you are intending to claim the JobKeeper payment on their behalf and check they aren’t claiming JobKeeper payment through another employer or have nominated through another business.

5) Provide the JobKeeper employee nomination notice to your nominated employees to complete and return to you by the end of April if you plan to claim JobKeeper payment for April. The nomination notice can be accessed here.

6) If you are not yet registered for Single Touch Payroll (STP), consider registering as this will assist in identifying eligible employees and entitlement to the JobKeeper payment.

Applying to receive JobKeeper payment
From 20 April 2020, employers can enrol with the ATO for the JobKeeper payment using the Business Portal. You must do this by the end of April to claim JobKeeper payments for April.

You will be required to 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).
Confirmation of eligible employees you will claim JobKeeper Payment for will be available from 4 May 2020 onwards.

When will payments be received?
The first payments to eligible employers will be made from the first week of May 2020 with entitlements backdated to the fortnight ended 12 April 2020.

For future JobKeeper payment periods, the ATO will make payments to eligible employers 14 days after the end of the calendar month in which the fortnight ends.

The JobKeeper payment is a reimbursement from the ATO and cannot be paid in advance.
The ATO cannot offset an entitlement to a JobKeeper Payment against other debts that the business may have with the ATO.

Paying eligible employees
Once you determine that your business is eligible for JobKeeper you will need to pay eligible employees at least the minimum amount of $1,500, even if they are re-hired or they earn less than this per fortnight.

How to pay
Eligible businesses need to continue to, or re-start paying eligible employees at least $1,500 a fortnight in line with your existing pay cycle.
When an employer elects to participate in the JobKeeper scheme and their eligible employees have agreed to be nominated by the employer, the employer must ensure that all of these eligible employees are covered by their participation in the scheme. This includes all eligible employees who are undertaking work for the employer or have been stood down. The employer cannot select which eligible employees will participate in the scheme.

How much to pay
You must pay the minimum $1,500 before tax to each eligible employee per fortnight to claim the JobKeeper payment in respect of that fortnight.
• If your eligible employees earn less than $1,500 per fortnight, you must pay them at least $1,500 for each fortnight.
• If your eligible employees earn more than $1,500 per fortnight, you should continue to pay them their regular salary or wages. However, you will only receive $1,500 for each eligible employee.
• If an employee has been stood down after 1 March 2020, you can start paying them $1,500 per fortnight to qualify for the JobKeeper payment for that employee.
• If an employee ceased working for you after 1 March 2020, you can re-engage them and pay them at least $1,500 per fortnight. You will only be eligible to claim for the fortnights after you re-engaged your employee.
Payments to eligible employees will be subject to ordinary PAYG Withholding rules.

When to pay
Employees need to be paid for each JobKeeper fortnight you plan to claim for. The first fortnight is from 30 March – 12 April and each fortnight follows after that.
For the first two fortnights (30 March – 12 April and 13 April – 26 April), the ATO are accepting that the minimum $1,500 payment for each fortnight has been paid by you even if it has been paid late, provided it is paid by the end of April.

If you pay your employees less frequently than fortnightly, the payment can be allocated in a reasonable manner. For example, if you pay your employees monthly, your employees must have received the monthly equivalent of $1,500 per fortnight.

The JobKeeper payment is available in fortnightly periods from 30 March 2020 to 27 September 2020 – a total period of 26 weeks.

Superannuation guarantee
It is expected that changes will be made to the Superannuation Guarantee (Administration) Act 1992 to ensure that employers will only need to make superannuation guarantee contributions for any amount payable to an employee in respect of their actual employment. This means disregarding any extra payments made by the employer to satisfy the wage condition for receiving the JobKeeper payment.

An employer will not be required to make superannuation contributions for an employee who is stood down.

An employer would still be required to make the standard superannuation guarantee contributions for an employee whose pay exceeds the JobKeeper payment.

Tax considerations
JobKeeper payments received by an employer will be assessable income of the business. The normal rules for deductibility will apply in respect of the amounts your business pays to its employees including amounts subsidised by the JobKeeper payment. Payments made to employees would be assessable income of the employee.

The JobKeeper payment is not subject to GST.

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Last updated 15 April 2020.