UNION WIN: Wage subsidy announced for workers affected by COVID-19

In great news for workers, the Federal Government has listened to our calls and announced a wage subsidy scheme for businesses and workers affected by COVID-19.

This means all full-time, part-time and casual workers (casuals need to have been employed by more than 12 months) of eligible employers will receive this JobKeeper payment of $1500 a fortnight backdated to March 30.

This amount will be paid directly to your employer from May 1, who will then have an obligation to pass this full payment onto you.

The JobKeeper payment will enable tens of thousands of retail and fast food workers to retain their jobs and put food on family table.

Who is eligible?

For an employer to be eligible, they must have seen a reduction in turnover of 30% due to the COVID-19 crisis (50% for employers who have $1 billion turnover or more).

Eligible employees are employees who:

  • are currently employed by the eligible employer (including those stood down or re-hired);

  • were employed by the employer at 1 March 2020;

  • are full-time, part-time, or long-term casuals (a casual employed on a regular basis for longer than 12 months as at 1 March 2020);

  • are at least 16 years of age;

  • are an Australian citizen, the holder of a permanent visa, a Protected Special Category Visa Holder, a non-protected Special Category Visa Holder who has been residing continually in Australia for 10 years or more, or a Special Category (Subclass 444) Visa Holder; and

  • are not in receipt of a JobKeeper Payment from another employer.

What’s next?

The SDA, together with the ACTU, will engage with the government on details of the package and raise the following concerns:

  • With 100,000 retail workers stood down in the last week alone, the SDA is concerned some retailers will not have the cash flow to survive until May 1st when payments start to flow

  • This could mean more workers stood down and more businesses folding than would be the case if payment began more rapidly

  • The payment should apply to casuals, who may not have worked all of the last 12 months for one employer, but could have reasonably expected to work now.

  • The payment should also apply to the 1.7million visa workers who have been working

The SDA will be working with employers on how this will be implemented, and we will update affected members once we have more information. At this stage, SDA members are not required to do anything.

The SDA thanks the government for listening to its joint approach with the Australian Retailers Association as well as the initiatives taken by the ACTU and a range of employer groups.

This initiative should keep more people in work, more outlets in business, reduce the depth of the contraction and make the economic bounce back quicker after the COVID-19 emergency has passed.

Applied for JobSeeker through Centrelink?

You can’t receive the JobSeeker payment through Centrelink and the JobKeeper payment from your employer. You’ll need to work this through with Centrelink if your employer agrees they will pay you the JobKeeper payment.