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What $130b JobKeeper subsidy means for you - your questions answered

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Millions of workers will have their wages paid in full or part by the Government this year as the economy is battered by the COVID-19 outbreak.

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Eligible businesses will receive $1500 per fortnight per employee, as part of a huge $130 billion wage subsidy announcement.

But employers and employees still have questions.

Am I eligible for the coronavirus wage subsidy?

The Government is estimating almost half of the Australian workforce will get this payment over the next six months.

That’s right — six million people in the companies hardest hit by shutdowns and the economic downturn.

Our entire workforce is about 13 million people.

Full-time workers, part-time employees, sole traders and casuals (who’ve been at the company or not-for-profit for at least one year) can have their wages subsidised if they were with the organisation on March 1.

How does the money get to me? Do I need to do anything to receive the JobKeeper payment?

It can be easy to think of JobKeeper as a payment directly to you as an employee, but the JobKeeper program is really for employers, which then pass the money on to employees.

The employer will deal with the Government, fill in the paperwork and receive the wage subsidies.

Employees who are kept on the books (even if the business goes into hibernation for a while) will keep receiving their pay in their bank accounts.

Whether you qualify for the payment depends on the size of the company you work for:

Employers that receive the payment will be required by law to pass it on to their staff.

When will the cash start flowing?

The program commenced on Monday but money won’t flow until the first of May.

The Australian Taxation Office will reimburse companies for the last couple of days of March — and the whole month of April — from the start of May.

What if I lost my job before this announcement?

People who have already been sacked are eligible if their business signs up for the program and puts them back on the books.

For people who’ve lost their job and whose company doesn’t sign up, they will need to apply for a Centrelink payment.

The Government has made it easier for more people to get the JobSeeker payment.

Before the most recent announcement, people were ineligible if their partner earned more than about $48,000 per year.

That’s now been increased to nearly $80,000.

What happens if I normally receive more than $1500 a fortnight?

The Government is hoping that people will keep receiving their current wage.

Let’s take this example:

Person A works for Company A, which currently pays Person A $2000 a fortnight. A JobKeeper payment should not mean Person A takes a $500 pay cut.

Person A’s fortnightly pay remains $2,000, with most of it subsidised by the Government to make sure Company A can keep paying its employees and ideally stay afloat and resume normal service on the other side of the coronavirus.

A fact sheet on the Treasury website describes the $1,500 in this instance as “a top-up”, but the Prime Minister explained it better in his press conference.

“They will have the first $1,500 of their wages each fortnight met by this payment,” Morrison said.

Why has the Government settled on $1,500 a fortnight?

The Government said this amount represented about 70 per cent of the median wage in Australia.

For industries hit hard — such as hospitality, retail and tourism — the Government said it’s the same as the median wage.

– ABC / Dan Conifer

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