The Morrison government has announced its JobKeeper scheme, relied on by millions of Australians, will be extended for six months until March 2021.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed in a press conference on Tuesday, 21 July that the JobKeeper program, set to expire by September, will now be extended until 28 March 2021.
How much will JobKeeper recipients receive starting September?
Morrison also announced the fortnightly payment would be reduced from 28 September from its $1,500 amount to $1,200 for those who had worked more than 20 hours in pre-COVID February 2020. It would again be reduced in the March quarter, starting January 2021, to $1,000 a fortnight.
For those on JobKeeper who worked less than 20 hours a week pre-COVID, a reduced rate of $750 will start from 28 September and a further reduction to $650 on 4 January 2021.
The extension comes as the coronavirus pandemic has continued to rage on around the world with Australia on the brink of a second major wave after outbreaks in Melbourne and Sydney.
The decision to make changes to JobKeeper was made after a review found it had supported around 3.5 million Australians and recommended continuing the program until the situation caused by coronavirus improved.
“Already just over $30 billion has been provided in support through the JobKeeper Program to almost a million businesses — 960,000, thereabouts — supporting some 3.5 million employees,” Morrison said.
“The report recommends that we should continue JobKeeper and we shall, but it needs to be done in a way that is responsive to the circumstances, that it needs to be done in a way that’s aligned with changes that we make to JobSeeker, and it needs to be reflective of the conditions and how they can change and we have built always into the design of JobKeeper that potential.”
What about JobSeeker?
The announcement also saw the weekly earnings threshold increased to $300 a week before it affects the amount of support payments those on Jobseeker receive. That means you earn up to $300 a week in wages and still get the full JobSeeker payment for that week.
The $550 coronavirus supplement people have been receiving will be reduced to $250 per fortnight from 25 September 2020 to 31 December 2020. After that, it’s expected to be completely removed.
Are mutual obligation requirements returning?
The short answer is yes but they’ll be slowly phased in over the months. Mutual obligations were actually reintroduced back on 8 June and included:
- voluntary job searches;
- at least one phone or online appointment with a jobseeker’s employment services provider;
- voluntary participation in activities, either online or in person
Morrison added in the press conference that mutual obligations would be further introduced in two phases from 4 August and then again at the end of September.
“From 4 August, we will be requiring people to connect again to employment services and to undertake four job searches a month and — the penalties regime will kick in if people refuse a job that has been provided and offered through that process,” Morrison said.
“In the second phase, which will be at the end of September, we will be moving to a higher rate of job search. We’ll be reintroducing the assets test for eligibility for those payments and we’ll be reintroducing assets waiting period at that time. We will be maintaining the eased restrictions around sole traders for their eligibility for JobSeeker.”
It’s expected more information will be released in the coming weeks.
And partner income tests?
Morrison said that the increased partner income threshold introduced earlier this year for Jobseeker recipients would remain for now.
According to a document from Treasury, the income partner test would change slightly from the end of September.
“The partner income test taper rate will increase to 27 cents on 25 September 2020 until 31 December 2020,” the document explains.
“The partner income test taper rate was previously 60 cents in the dollar until 26 April 2020, when it was temporarily relaxed to 25 cents in the dollar.”
Practically speaking, the cut off salary for a partner of a Jobseeker recipient was raised to $79,762 in March. That now means for every dollar over that amount — $3,070.80 per fortnight — a partner earns, 27 cents will be taken off the recipients support payment starting from 25 September.
This article has been updated since its original publication.