Federal government wage subsidy welcomed by industries

The Ai Group has welcomed the federal government’s latest stimulus package to boost job prospects for Australians affected by the coronavirus.

The announcement comes as a relieve for manufacturers and is expected to alleviate concerns for businesses during the next six months.

The funding will provide $130 billion in wage support for six million Australians through the JobKeeper program.

Businesses will receive fortnightly subsides of $1500 for every employee over the next six months.

National employer association Ai Group CEO Innes Willox said the measure was “well targeted” towards businesses that have experienced sharp reductions in turnover.

“This support will allow many employers to retain some staff through this health and economic crisis who they may otherwise have needed to let go,” he said.

“While inevitably there will be some complexities involved, these can be reduced by a short period of focused consultation with employer and employee representatives on the legislation and associated regulation and administrative arrangements.”

Employers including non-profit organisations will be eligible for the subsidy if their business has a turnover of less $1 billion that will be reduced by more than 30 per cent, or has a turnover of more than $1 billion that will be reduced by more than 50 per cent over a comparative period of at least on month.

Self-employed individuals are eligible for the JobKeeper Payment where they have suffered or expect to suffer a 30 per cent decline in turnover relative to a comparable a period a year ago of at least a month. Where employees have multiple employers, applicants may nominate one employer to receive the payment.

Industry, science and technology minister Karen Andrews told ABC News Breakfast in an interview this morning it was important for big businesses to retain workers where possible.

“Our focus is clearly on making sure we’re cushioning the blow for those Australians that have lost their jobs or have reduced hours, whilst making sure there is a strong connection between these displaced workers, or those with reduced hours, and their workplace,” she said.

Businesses must elect to participate in the scheme through at an application with the Australian tax office, and report on the number of employees receiving benefits on a monthly basis.

Full-time, part-time, long-term casual employees who were stood down while still employed from March 1, 2020, who continue to be engaged by their employer, are eligible for payments. Casual workers must have been employed on a regular basis for 12 months.

Applicants must be an Australian citizen, the holder of a permanent visa, a Protected Special Category Visa Holder, a non-protected Special Category Visa Holder who has been residing continually in Australia for ten years or more, or a Special Category (Subclass 444) visa holder.

Prior stimulus packages include $1.3 billion for small businesses to retain trainees and apprentices, and $17 billion to provide economic relieve and prevent the country from entering a recession.