More businesses and workers will be eligible for the next phase of JobKeeper under a $15.6 billion change to the Covid-19 scheme.
The changed eligibility requirements were agreed to late on Thursday night as Victoria battles a huge surge in Covid cases, leading to a state-wide shutdown with major economic ramifications.
They represent a major reversal of the requirements announced three weeks ago, and will see the JobKeeper bill blow out to $101 billion.
The new rules will begin on 28 September and mean that from then, businesses will need to show their turnover has fallen in the June 2020 quarter by 30 per cent compared to the same quarter in 2019.
Previously, businesses needed to prove their turnover had fallen by 30 per cent in the consecutive June and September 2020 quarters. This means businesses that had been performing strongly through April, May and June but have now been forced into total shutdown will be eligible for the payments.
For the second JobKeeper extension, which begins on 4 January, businesses will need to show a 30 per cent fall in turnover over the December quarter only in order to qualify for the significantly smaller payment.
Under the previous eligibility requirements, businesses needed to show a fall in turnover for the consecutive June, September and December quarters.
More employees will also be eligible, with workers who joined by at least 1 July now qualifying for payments. Previously, workers needed to have been on the books since 1 March. These new workers will qualify for payments backdated to 3 August.
“This change means more people can access the program because as businesses were starting to open up, as progress was made on the health front, more employees were coming on the books of businesses. Now of course, they're being subject to lockdown. So this will allow the JobKeeper program to cover them,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told the ABC.
The changes effectively double the amount the Government was planning to spend on the next, cheaper phase of JobKeeper.
According to Treasury, another 530,000 Victorians will receive the subsidy during the September quarter as the state’s shutdown locked many out of a job. And by December, that number will increase to 740,000.
However, Frydenberg ruled out changes to the size of the JobKeeper subsidies which will taper from September.
He said the current rate of payment extends beyond Victoria’s six-week lockdown, and that the Government’s focus is on transitioning the payment.
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