Identifying the JobKeeper payment rates

If your business is eligible for JobKeeper from 28 September 2020, you will need to identify all of your eligible employees and the JobKeeper payment rate applicable to them.

From 28 September 2020, the JobKeeper payment rate will reduce and split into a higher and lower rate based on the number of hours the employee worked in a specific 28 day period prior to 1 March 2020 or 1 July 2020.

For eligible employees who have been employed since 1 March 2020, employers need to choose the reference period that provides the best outcome for the employees. For many employers, this will be the pre COVID-19, 1 March 2020 reference date. For eligible employees employed after 1 March 2020, use the pay periods prior to 1 July 2020.

If the pay cycle is longer than 28 days, a pro-rata calculation needs to be completed to determine the average hours worked and on paid leave across an equivalent 28 day period. For example, if the relevant monthly pay cycle has 31 days, you take the total hours for the month and multiply this by 28/31.

Speaking to a MyBusiness podcast, ATO Deputy Commissioner James O’Halloran said the ATO is, “…looking for what is a natural record or support that does demonstrate that effort of active participation in a business on behalf of businesses and in terms of employees on what basis the hours have been done.”

What happens if the employee’s hours were different to normal in the reference period?

Alternative tests are available where:

  • The reference period is not typical of the employee’s hours or you use a rostering system and there is no typical pattern in a 28 day period – use an earlier 28 day period or multiple 28 day periods that more accurately represent the employee’s typical arrangements. That is, you select the next 28 day period before 1 March 2020 or 1 July 2020 that represents the employee’s typical employment pattern. For workers that don’t have a typical pattern because of a rostering system like fly-in-fly-out workers, an average of the hours worked over the employee’s rostering schedule and proportionally adjusted over 28 days can be used to work out a typical 28-day period.
  • The employee started work during the reference period. Use a forward-looking alternative test. In these circumstances, use the pay cycle immediately on or after 1 March 2020 or 1 July 2020. For employers with fortnightly or weekly pay cycles, you must use consecutive weeks. Where an employee was stood down, use the first 28 day period starting on the first day of a pay cycle on or after 1 March 2020 or on or after 1 July 2020 in which they were not stood down.

What happens if the employee’s salary is not linked to hours?

Some employees will automatically qualify for the higher JobKeeper payment rate. To qualify for the higher rate, these employees: were paid at least $1,500 in the reference period; were required to work at least 80 hours under an industrial award, enterprise agreement or contract; or, it is reasonable to assume that they worked at least 80 hours during the applicable period.

What about directors and partners in a partnership?

Business participants (sole traders, the self-employed with an ABN, or one partner in a partnership, beneficiary of a trust, or director/shareholder), must use the month of February 2020 (the whole 29 days) as their test period. The test looks at the number of hours you were actively engaged in the business  – actively operating the business or undertaking specific tasks in business development and planning, regulatory compliance or similar activities.

Other than sole traders, a business participant must provide a declaration to the business entity confirming their hours worked over the reference period. Sole traders need confirm details with the ATO.

Where February 2020 was not typical, you can use the next typical 29 day period, or if you commenced during February, March 2020.

My employer is no longer eligible for JobKeeper. Can I receive JobKeeper from another employer?

Employees and business participants can normally only have one nominated employer for the JobKeeper scheme (ever). If your nominated employer is no longer eligible for JobKeeper payments, you cannot be a nominated employee of another employer. The main exception to this is where the individual ceased to be employed or actively engaged in the business (as a business participant) of the original entity after 1 March 2020 but before 1 July 2020. They must also have met the conditions to be treated as an eligible employee of the new employer at 1 July 2020.


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