JobKeeper scheme - overview

Published 1 May 2020 | Updated 28 September 2020

Annual Wage Review 2020 – 1 November increase

Minimum wages in the next group of awards increase from 1 November. The Fair Work Commission has announced they will be issuing the updated Group 2 awards on 31 October 2020. If you’re covered by one of the awards in Group 2, it may impact your minimum pay rates from this date.

Find out which awards are in Group 2 and if it affects you at The Commission has announced a 1.75% increase to minimum wages.

The JobKeeper scheme is a subsidy for businesses significantly affected by coronavirus.

It also gives some employers extra flexibility to help manage their business. These employers can use temporary provisions under the Fair Work Act (JobKeeper provisions) to give employees certain directions (called JobKeeper enabling directions) or make certain agreements with them.

On 1 September 2020, the JobKeeper scheme and flexibility provisions were extended until 29 March 2021, with some changes. The extended provisions apply from 28 September 2020 and the last day they will apply is 28 March 2021.

JobKeeper payments

Employers significantly affected by coronavirus can access the JobKeeper scheme to help them keep paying their employees. The JobKeeper scheme was originally due to end on 27 September 2020 but has been extended until 28 March 2021, with some changes.

Eligible employers can claim a JobKeeper payment, which is a reimbursement to help them continue to pay their employees. The JobKeeper scheme and JobKeeper payments are administered by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). For detailed eligibility information, visit JobKeeper payment – Eligible employers external-icon.png on the ATO website.

Qualifying employers can claim a reimbursement (before tax) per fortnight for each eligible employee who:

  • was employed by their employer on 1 March or 1 July 2020
  • is employed for the fortnights that the employer is claiming the reimbursement for (including those who are stood down or re-hired).

To be eligible before 3 August 2020, employees had to be employed by their employer on 1 March 2020. To be eligible from 3 August 2020, employees need to be employed by their employer on either 1 March or 1 July 2020. More information can be found at Your eligible employees external-icon.png on the ATO website.

For the JobKeeper fortnights from 28 September 2020, there are 2 payment rates:

  • a Tier 1 (higher) rate
  • a Tier 2 (lower) rate.

The payment rate will also have 2 stages, with the rate reducing after a certain date. The rates in the table below are before tax.

JobKeeper fortnights Tier 1 rate Tier 2 rate
28 September 2020 – 3 January 2021 $1200  $750 
4 January 2021 – 28 March 2021 $1000  $650 

Whether an employee is entitled to the Tier 1 or Tier 2 rate is based on whether they meet the 80-hour threshold, as set out in the ATO's criteria. Find out how to work out the 80-hour threshold at ATO website – 80-hour threshold for employees external-icon.png

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JobKeeper provisions under the Fair Work Act

To support the operation of the JobKeeper scheme, temporary JobKeeper provisions have been added to the Fair Work Act to give certain employers increased flexibility to manage their workplaces during the impact of coronavirus. The provisions started on 9 April 2020 and apply until 29 March 2021, with some changes from 28 September 2020.

Employers may be able to access the JobKeeper provisions if they are a:

  • qualifying employer: employers who qualify for the JobKeeper scheme and are receiving JobKeeper payments for their employees
  • legacy employer: employers who previously qualified for the JobKeeper scheme but no longer qualify, or choose not to participate, from 28 September 2020.

Qualifying employers

The information in this section is for qualifying employers and their eligible employees.

Employers who qualify for the JobKeeper scheme can give their eligible employees JobKeeper enabling directions. This means they may be able to temporarily:

  • stand down an employee (including by reducing their hours or days of work)
  • change an employee’s usual duties
  • change an employee’s location of work.

The JobKeeper provisions also allow these employers to make agreements with their eligible employees to change their days and times of work.

JobKeeper enabling directions or agreements that are already in place on 27 September 2020 keep applying after this date as long as the employer continues to qualify for the JobKeeper scheme and the requirements to give a direction or make an agreement continue to be met.

JobKeeper enabling directions or agreements stop applying when they’re cancelled, withdrawn or replaced (including by a Fair Work Commission order), or on 29 March 2021 (whichever comes first).

More information for qualifying employers:

Legacy employers

The information in this section is for legacy employers and their eligible employees.

From 28 September 2020, certain employers can continue using some of the extended JobKeeper provisions if they:

  • previously participated in the JobKeeper scheme, but no longer participate from 28 September 2020
  • demonstrate at least a 10% decline in turnover for a relevant quarter by getting either a:
    • 10% decline in turnover certificate from an eligible financial service provider, or
    • if they’re a small business, getting a statutory declaration.

These employers are called legacy employers. Legacy employers can:

  • issue JobKeeper enabling stand down directions (with some changes)
  • issue JobKeeper enabling directions in relation to employees’ duties and locations of work
  • make agreements with employees to work on different days or at different times (with some changes).

More information for legacy employers:

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Participating in the JobKeeper scheme

If an employer chooses to participate in the JobKeeper scheme, they need to give all their eligible employees a notice telling them that they intend to participate, and asking them if they agree to be nominated and receive payments as part of the scheme. Employers have to do this within 7 days of enrolling. For more information about timeframes and nomination notices, go to the ATO website - JobKeeper payment external-icon.png and employee nomination notices external-icon.png.

The ATO says that an employer who decides to participate in the JobKeeper scheme should nominate all their eligible employees who agree to be nominated (also known as ‘one in all in’). See Your eligible employees external-icon.png on the ATO website for more information.

An employer can choose not to participate in the JobKeeper scheme. If an employer chooses not to participate in the JobKeeper scheme at all, they can’t:

  • receive JobKeeper payments from the ATO on behalf of their eligible employees
  • use the JobKeeper provisions for their employees.

All the usual rights and obligations under the Fair Work Act and the applicable award or agreement still apply.

Employers that no longer qualify for the JobKeeper scheme from 28 September 2020 but meet the requirements to be a legacy employer may continue to use some of the JobKeeper provisions (with some changes). Find out more about these types of employers at Legacy employers.

Employers that don’t qualify for the JobKeeper scheme may be able to access other government assistance. Go to our Other government information and assistance page for information on other services.

Former eligible employees (including employees who have resigned or been made redundant and not re-hired) may be eligible for other support payments such as the JobSeeker scheme. Read more about JobSeeker payments external-icon.png on the Services Australia website.

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Enforcement and dealing with disputes

We help employers and employees understand and follow Australian workplace laws. We do this by:

  • providing information and education
  • providing tools, templates and guides
  • helping you resolve workplace issues.

Our Resolving workplace issues during coronavirus page has information and resources to help you resolve workplace disputes. It also has information about our enforcement role under the JobKeeper scheme and who can help with:

  • questions about eligibility for the JobKeeper scheme
  • disputes about directions or requests under the JobKeeper scheme
  • disputes related to requirements for legacy employers, including certificates.

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Myth-busting videos

Watch our short video busting some common myths about returning to work during coronavirus, including myths about JobKeeper and other workplace issues.

In part 1, we deal with leave and stand downs, annual leave and JobKeeper and notice and stand downs. Watch now.

In part 2, we deal with myths about work and the JobKeeper payment, employee duties back at the workplace, and JobKeeper and reduced hours. Watch now.

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More information

JobKeeper workplace information

Qualifying employers

Legacy employers

JobKeeper payments, employer eligibility and enrolling

Visit the ATO website for detailed information about:

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