Businesses are gearing up for the first payments of the government’s $1,500 wage subsidy which will start flowing from the first week of May, to the relief of many employers and employees across the nation.
Workers have been able to hang onto their jobs, bosses have been able to hang onto their staff and businesses have been able to stay afloat thanks to the government’s $130 billion package to prevent unemployment figures from smashing the roof.
Several business owners told Yahoo Finance that their business was able to stay open thanks to the $1,500 fortnightly payments, which will be backdated to 30 March.
‘An absolute lifesaver’
Tax expert and charity treasurer Adrian Raftery said the JobKeeper program had allowed Bears of Hope Pregnancy & Infant Loss Support Inc to continue running.
“All I can say is that the JobKeeper Subsidy has been an absolute lifesaver for us. With the various shutdown/lockdown restrictions we have had to cancel a number of our fundraising activities and events this year, including the upcoming Mother's Day High Teas,” he said.
“Together with charity fatigue after the bushfire season and the negative stories around the Red Cross & co … our income will be absolutely decimated in 2020.”
The charity had never relied on government support before, and was funded through community donations and support, Raftery added. The charity employs six women, all mothers, but are paid “way below market salaries because that is all we could afford”.
“I wanted to do everything in my power to keep them, but all cash reserves were going to dry up real quick and [we were] unsure if we could get a loan without any income coming in the door,” he said.
“[It’s] a vital and essential service that we provide to the community, so [to] be getting the $7,500 per fortnight (one employee elected another employer to get the subsidy from unfortunately), we have been able to keep our amazing staff during these difficult times,” he said.
Waste and recycling service start-up Waster.com.au co-founder Aodhan MacCathmhaoil told Yahoo Finance the business hit a low point in early April, when 60 per cent of customers had to suspend their services amid the shutdown.
“In a business with certain fixed costs - like ours - or any business - we would have gone out of business very quickly,” said MacCathmhaoil.
The start-up has three full-time staff employed in Sydney – and all three have narrowly avoided being made redundant.
“JobKeeper is vital for us; it lets us keep our staff employed. And as a business, we do not lose the expertise they have, which is vital for us to grow when the economy reopens.
“Without JobKeeper, unemployment would be many times worse than the terrible level it is at now.”
‘We can help brighten people’s days’
Sydney-based party store The Party People boss Dean Salakas said his business had been operating for more than three decades, but the coronavirus crisis had pushed it to the brink.
“However, we can still supply decorations and balloons for people to celebrate without guests. With JobKeeper we have been able to stay open and stay afloat,” Salakas said.
Customers have also expressed their gratitude for the store remaining open for business, he added.
“I have never had a customer thank me for ‘being open’ but lately almost every second customer thanks us for being open,” he told Yahoo Finance.
“JobKeeper and other government incentives have allowed us to stay open so we can help brighten people’s days at a time when they need it most.
“It’s helped my staff, some of whom were struggling with lack of shifts. The business also would not have survived without it.”
In order for businesses to be eligible for JobKeeper payments, employers have to prove that they have already paid workers $1,500 a fortnight ahead of the ATO payments.