The Federal Government has released an update on the JobKeeper program as hundreds of thousands of businesses across Australia enrol into the scheme.

Enrolments opened on 20 April and more than 400,000 businesses enrolled, covering around 2.4 million employees across Australia. More than 900,000 businesses expressed interest in the program prior to launch.

However, as the scheme is rolled out, further clarifications have been made to ensure the integrity and the efficient operation of the program.

  • Employees employed through a special purpose entity, rather than an operating entity: Changes will address the circumstances where business structures use a special purpose entity to employ staff rather than staff being directly employed by an operating entity.

    The government will provide an alternate decline in turnover test for the eligibility of special purpose service entities that provide employee labour to group members and that have not met the basic test for decline in turnover.

    This alternate test will apply where an entity provides the services of its employees to one or more related entities, where those related entities carry on a business deriving revenue from unrelated third parties.

    The alternate test will be by reference to the combined GST turnovers of the related entities using the services of the employer entity.

  • Charities and the treatment of government revenue: Changes will allow charities (other than schools and universities) to elect to exclude government revenue from the JobKeeper turnover test.

    This will allow employing charities receiving revenue from government to use either their total turnover, or their turnover excluding government revenue, for the purposes of assessing eligibility for the JobKeeper Payment.

    This will help to ensure that the eligibility of charities is not adversely affected where they are delivering significant services that are funded by government.

  • ‘One in, all in’ principle: Once an employer decides to participate in the JobKeeper scheme and their eligible employees have agreed to be nominated by the employer, the employer must ensure that all of these eligible employees are covered by their participation in the scheme.

    This includes all eligible employees who are undertaking work for the employer or have been stood down.

    The employer cannot select which eligible employees will participate in the scheme.

    As noted in the explanatory statement to the existing rules, this ‘one in, all in’ principle is already a key feature of the scheme and will be made clearer in the rules.

  • Full time students aged 16 and 17 years old: As noted in the explanatory statement to the existing rules, the benefit of the JobKeeper payment to workers over the age of 16 is justified for those who are financially independent and who require the security provided by participation in the JobKeeper scheme and the maintenance of the working relationship that it affords.

    The rules will provide that full time students who are 17 years old and younger, and who are not financially independent, are not eligible for the JobKeeper Payment.

    This clarification will apply prospectively, which would mean an eligible employer that has already met the wage condition of paying such an employee $1,500 for a fortnight could be entitled to a JobKeeper Payment in arrears for that fortnight.

The banks have agreed to set up special hotlines to help businesses who need finance to bridge the gap until the first JobKeeper payments are made.

The banks have also agreed to bring JobKeeper-related applications to the front of the queue and work with the ATO to accelerate the finance assessment process.

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