Published on July 21, 2020 1:58 pm, by Pete Lalor
Updated: 4 August 2020
What JobKeeper is, how it works and how it will change
What JobSeeker is, how it works and how it will change
What about recipients of other government benefits?
The Coronavirus Supplement
The Coronavirus Supplement is a “top-up” payment made to the recipients of a number of government benefits including:
Until 24 September the Coronavirus Supplement will be $550 per fortnight. From 25 September until 31 December it will be reduced to $250 per fortnight. It is likely that the Coronavirus Supplement will be extended until 31 March 2021 but this is not yet certain.
Coronavirus Test Isolation and Worker Support Payments for Victorian Residents
Eligible residents of Victoria can access the $300 Coronavirus Test Isolation Payment designed to cover lost income during isolation following a COVD-19 test and the $1500 Worker Support Payment designed to cover lost income during isolation after testing positive for COVID-19. Further information is available in this article.
JobKeeper or JobSeeker?
This is probably the most important question for people who have lost their job, been stood down or have had their work hours significantly reduced due to COVID-19.
For most people who are currently employed, have been “stood down” (that is still employed but not actively working), are sole traders or self employed the best option is probably to have their employer register for JobKeeper Payments. The JobKeeper payment is more than the JobSeeker Payment plus the Coronavirus Supplement.
Eligibility for the JobKeeper Payment
Both the employer and the employee must be eligible for the JobKeeper Payment.
Initially, a business was eligible for JobKeeper Payments if:
Under the most recent announcements, businesses will have to demonstrate turnover has declined by 30% (or 50% in the case of businesses with turnover of $1 billion or more) in the June and September quarters to qualify for JobKeeper payments in the December quarter and demonstrate a 30% (or 50% in the case of businesses with turnover of $1 billion or more) reduction in turnover in the December quarter to be eligible for JobKeeper payments in the March 2021 quarter.
For an employee to be eligible for JobKeeper Payments they must:
Employers should register their intent to claim JobKeeper Payments with ATO at this website.
Further information on JobKeeper Payments is available here.
Eligibility for the JobSeeker Payment
If you can’t get your employer to register for the JobKeeper Payment or you aren’t eligible for it you should register for the JobSeeker Payment. This is an existing government benefit paid by CentreLink to eligible individuals.
If you already receive the JobSeeker Payment you will continue to receive it and you will automatically be paid the Coronavirus Supplement. You may also qualify for one or two of the additional payments described below.
Until 25 September more people will qualify for JobSeeker including permanent employees, sole traders, self-employed, casual workers, and contractors who have been stood down, have lost their employment or who have their hours reduced (including to zero) who meet the income tests. Normal wait periods have been removed. The normal Asset testing has been waived. Income testing will still apply but these have been modified. Details about the income tests are available here. The one week Ordinary Waiting Period, Liquid Assets Waiting Period (which usually means you need to use your savings before you can claim the benefit), Seasonal Worker Preclusion Period and Newly Arrived residents Waiting Period have all been waived.
After 25 September asset testing and the Liquid Assets Waiting Period will be reintroduced. Details of the asset tests are available here. Partner income testing will also be changed. Your JobSeeker payment will be reduced by 27 cents (instead of 25 cents) for every dollar your partner earns over $1165 per fortnight.
The Ordinary Waiting Period, Seasonal Worker Preclusion Period and Newly Arrived residents Waiting Period will all continue to be waived
You won’t be able to get the JobSeeker Payment while you are receiving employee entitlements such as annual leave or sick leave or income protection benefits.
Job seeking arrangements
Until 3 August JobSeeker recipients are not required to actively look for work. From the 4 August JobSeeker recipients will be required to apply for at least 4 jobs per month and will incur penalties for refusing work.
Additional Support Payments
The Government is also making two additional support payments of $750 each to social security, veteran and other income support recipients and eligible concession cardholders.
The two support payments will be paid automatically from 31 March 2020 and 13 July 2020. Eligible recipients of the two support payments include recipients of a wide range of existing benefits including Age Pension, Disability Support Pension, Carer Payment, Austudy, Abstudy, Newstart Allowance, JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance, Partner Allowance, Sickness Benefit, Special Benefit, Family Tax Benefit, Veteran Service Pension, Veteran Income Support Supplement, Veteran Compensation payments, War Widow and Widower pensions, Veteran Payment, Farm Household Allowance and holders of Pensioner Concession Cards, Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders, Veteran Gold Card.
If you are already receiving any of these benefits you don’t need to do anything. You can concentrate on staying healthy and other important things and your additional payment should start automatically.
How you claim the benefits
If you are eligible for the JobKeeper Payment your employer must register. You should talk to your employer.
If you are already receiving Jobseeker Payment (and Partner Allowance, Widow Allowance, Sickness Allowance, and Wife Pension), Youth Allowance Jobseeker and Apprentices, Parenting Payment (Partnered and Single), Farm Household Allowance or Special Benefit recipients you don’t need to anything. You will automatically start getting the Coronavirus supplement starting on 27 April 2020.
If you are eligible for the JobSeeker Payment because of COVID-19 you will need to apply.
People are also being strongly encouraged to register online if they can – you should avoid spending long periods of time waiting at Centrelink offices with lots of other people
To register for the benefits you need to:
There is now also an option on the Centrelink website to indicate your intent to claim these benefits. If you select this option Centrelink will contact you – which might be a better option if you experience issues with the myGov website.
Rent Assistance may be available if you qualify for another benefit and you pay rent. The actual amount paid depends on how much rent you pay over the minimum threshold (which currently starts at $124.60 for singles and is higher for couples and families with dependent children). If you are eligible you will receive $0.75 or every $1.00 of rent over the minimum up to the maximum amount of the benefit which is $93.07 a fortnight for single sharers and higher for couples and families with dependent children.
Staying up to date
As the pandemic develops these arrangements are subject to change. We will do our best to keep this page up to date so we suggest you check back regularly. You can also stay up to date on government websites. The key sites are:
If you are concerned about the financial impact of COVID-19 or you are facing the uncertainty of losing your job or having your income significantly reduced we can help. Sign up to MoneyBrilliant and we will give you access to a host of tools and features to help you organise your finances and make better decisions about your money. We’ll also give you tailored insights about the financial assistance available from governments and businesses to help you face the economic and financial challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This summary has been prepared by MoneyBrilliant Pty Ltd (AFSL 492711, ACL 493068). The information in this summary is of a factual nature only. We are not suggesting or recommending that you take any particular course of action in relation to any financial product or service. It does not take into account your personal circumstances or objectives. If you need financial advice or taxation advice you should seek advice from a licensed financial adviser or tax agent. You may also be able to access additional information from the websites of the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) and the relevant product providers.
Peter is the CEO of MoneyBrilliant. He has over 20 years experience in banking, insurance and accounting. Peter has three sons, ranging in age from 16 to 3, is a sport and fitness fanatic and a volunteer firefighter. He is passionate about improving people's lives through making financial services more accessible.