The Governments $130bn plan to protect Australian jobs was announced in March and passed into legislation in April. While consideration must be given to the speed at which the scheme was developed, it certainly has had some quirky outcomes and raised many questions across the small business community.
Key concerns raised across our client base has included:
- Requirement to pay staff on stand-down in advance of receiving the Jobkeeper payment
- Risks involved in payment of staff without being provided with verbal or written confirmation that business meets the required eligibility criteria
- Providing staff earning under $1,500 an increase in fortnightly pay
- Staff expecting to receive the Jobkeeper payment without work being performed
- Delays in payments being administered
- The employers required treatment of the payment as assessable income
The unemployment rate jumped too 6.2% in April as a result of over 600,000 Australians losing their jobs as a result of COVID19. On face value, this is a good result compared to expectations and would indicate the Jobkeeper was working. However, the underemployment figure which jumped from 8.8% to 13.7% provides a more realistic reflection of the current employment situation in Australia.
Despite the rise in unemployment and underemployment the situation would be significantly worse without the Jobkeeper program. Over 6.5 million Australians have now received jobkeeper payments through their respective employers. It is estimated that the program has saved over 1 million jobs.
However, over the last week key political figures including Scott Morrison have refused to guarantee the program would remain in its current form for the declared six-month period ending September 2020. This change in communication is of significant concern, before many employers received their first Jobkeeper payment the program itself was in doubt.
The lack of commitment for the program is starting to undermine its purpose. The cashflow support allows for employees to be kept on or stood down rather than being made redundant. Further it reduces business confidence in the program which will reduce the likelihood of the business investing in growth activities as the current health crisis subsides.
It would be political suicide to materially alter the Jobkeeper program and more importantly it would likely send the country past a recession and into a depression.
If your business is finding it difficult to navigate through the impacts of COVID19 contact TR Consulting for a no fee or obligation initial consultation.