While they have similar names, JobSeeker and JobKeeper are different schemes that some nurses and midwives may need to access in order to continue taking home income. Here is some basic information on both schemes with links to further information.
JobKeeper was recently announced by the federal government. Eligible employers will be reimbursed a fixed amount of $1,500 per fortnight for each eligible employee. Employers are eligible for the JobKeeper payment if all of the following apply:
- On 1 March 2020, they carried on a business in Australia or were a not-for-profit organisation that pursued its objectives principally in Australia.
- Eligible employees are currently employed by the business for the fortnights they claim for (including those who are stood down or re-hired).
- The business has faced either a:
- 30% fall in turnover (for an aggregated turnover of $1 billion or less); or
- 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).
Employers will need to pay eligible employees a minimum of $1,500 (before tax) per fortnight to claim the JobKeeper payment.
This will be paid to the employer in arrears each month by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
The first payments to eligible employers commence in the first week of May 2020. JobKeeper payments can be made for the period beginning 30 March 2020.
Payments under JobKeeper are not means tested, although they are taxable and may affect the amount of payments from Centrelink, the same way regular wages from an employer does.
Unfortunately most ANMF members are not eligible for JobKeeper because the following employers are not allowed to participate in the scheme:
- State or Territory governments (eg. Queensland Health, SA Health)
- Local government (ie. councils)
- Federal government
- An entity wholly owned by one of the above.
In addition, casual employees need to have worked with the same employer for more than 12 months to be eligible.
This leads to unusual scenarios. Some casual employees working for public hospitals have lost income with no support, however a nurse employed by an agency operating in the same hospital may be eligible for JobKeeper.
Many aged care providers may not be eligible to participate in the scheme because their turnover will not have sufficiently fallen.
To participate, employers must register for the scheme and then nominate their employees. Before they enrol to receive JobKeeper payments, an employer needs to inform each eligible employee that they intend to nominate them as eligible employees. An employee can only receive the JobKeeper payment from one employer.
Employees must fill in a form setting out that they are eligible for the scheme and provide it to their employer in order to be nominated. The form can be found on the ATO website.
At this stage the JobKeeper scheme is intended to run until 27 September 2020.
Workers who are not eligible for JobKeeper may be entitled to JobSeeker benefits, even if they are still employed. JobSeeker is administered by Centrelink and is the benefit formerly known as Newstart.
Australians receiving income support payments already from Centrelink, such as JobSeeker, Youth Allowance or a parenting payment, will be given a further $550/fortnight (the Coronavirus Supplement) on top of their regular benefit payment starting from 27 April 2020. This effectively doubles the base rate of the JobSeeker payment.
In response to the pandemic, rules around accessing JobSeeker and other Centrelink benefits have been temporarily amended so that more people are eligible. These rules include assets and income tests, for example, your partner’s income affects your payments. The limits on this were recently raised so that more people are eligible for JobSeeker. Mutual obligations, such as demonstrating attendance at face to face job interviews and training activities have been made easier to meet or suspended until 22 May 2020.