Thinking | 4 September 2020

Keeping up with JobKeeper: legislation now passed

By Fay Calderone, Jessica Luker and Alexandra Armstrong-Millar

As anticipated, the Coronavirus Economic Response Package (JobKeeper Payments) Amendment Act 2020 (Act) received royal assent on 3 September 2020 and is now in force. We outline what you need to know.

The Act has the effect of amending the Coronavirus Economic Response Package (Payments and Benefits) Act 2020, the Coronavirus Economic Response Package Omnibus (Measures No. 2) Act 2020, the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) and the Taxation Administration Act 1953.

Here are the key changes employers must be aware of:

  • The JobKeeper subsidy scheme has been extended to 28 March 2021, with some significant changes to employee eligibility requirements and the introduction of a two-tiered payment system. We have previously reported on these changes here.
  • Certain workplace flexibilities including the ability to issue JobKeeper-enabling directions have been extended with amendments. We previously reported on the amended workplace flexibilities here.
  • Despite resistance from the opposition, all changes previously reported on have been carried through. Only minor amendments were made to remove the proposed definition of ‘registered company auditor’ and clarify that only registered tax agents, BAS agents, or qualified accounts can issue certificates as eligible financial service providers.
  • The circumstances in which information provided or obtained under a tax law can be disclosed have been extended to include disclosures to an Australian government agency concerning information about the JobKeeper Scheme or relating to COVID-19.

As the existing JobKeeper scheme nears its end, businesses should:

  • consider whether they will qualify for payments under the revised JobKeeper scheme and if not, whether they need to implement other cost-saving measures to manage increased financial pressures;
  • consider whether they are entitled to utilise the amended workplace flexibilities as a consequence of their eligibility for the revised JobKeeper scheme or as a ‘legacy employer’; and
  • prepare to issue new JobKeeper-enabling directions in accordance with the amended provisions, or plan for employees to return to their ordinary work arrangements.

While the Act sets out the framework for the extension to the JobKeeper Scheme, organisations will need to stay tuned for the Treasurer’s amendments to the JobKeeper Rules, which set out the functional provisions of the scheme.

Hall & Wilcox can assist your organisation to navigate these legislative changes and advise your organisation on its obligations under the JobKeeper regime moving forward.

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