COVID-19

JobMaker Hiring Credit

Employers now have more incentive to employ workers under 35! The JobMaker Hiring credit legislation has now been passed into law! This credit was part of the 2020-21 Budget, which will operate until 6 October 2022. It is designed to improve the prospects of young individuals getting employment following the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the labour market.

Commencement

The scheme will be backdated to commence on 7 October 2020 and provide eligible employers with the following payments for up to 12 months for new jobs created for which they hire the following young workers:

• $200 a week for hiring a worker aged 16 to 29 for at least 20 hours a week and

• $100 a week for those aged 30 to 35.

Although the scheme is slated to run for just 12 months, that period is the hiring period – not the payment period. Eligible employers who hire an eligible employee as late as the last day of the scheme (6 October 2021), may be eligible for hiring credits for the subsequent 12 months until 6 October 2022.

Employer Eligibility

As an employer, you will be deemed eligible for JobMaker if the following criteria are met:

  • for the first 6 months of JobMaker, you have hired additional eligible employees (minimum of one additional employee). This is determined by a headcount as at 30 September 2020 and the payroll of the business for the reporting period, as compared to the three-months to 30 September 2020.
  • have an ABN,
  • are registered for PAYG withholding,
  • are up-to-date with lodgement obligations for the previous 2 years (including BAS and income tax returns) and
  • are reporting payroll through STP

You will not be deemed eligible if any of the following apply:

  • you are claiming JobKeeper for your business,
  • you have entities in liquidation or who have entered bankruptcy
  • your entity is a commonwealth, state, and local government agency (and entities wholly owned by these agencies)
  • you are subject to the major bank levy
  • your business is a sovereign entity (except those who are resident Australian entities owned by a sovereign entity.
Employee Eligibility

Employees will be eligible if they:

  • commenced employment between 7 October 2020 and 6 October 2021
  • were aged between 16 and 35 years at the time they commenced employment
  • have worked an average of 20-hours a week for each whole week the individual was employed by the qualifying entity during the JobMaker period.

Additionally, the worker must have met the pre-employment condition which requires that for at least 28 of the 84 days (i.e. for 4 out of 12 weeks) immediately BEFORE the commencement of employment of the individual, the individual was receiving one of the following payments:

  • parenting payment
  • youth allowance (except if the individual was receiving this payment on the basis that they were undertaking full time study or was a new apprentice) or
  • JobSeeker payment.

We note that the new worker must be in a genuine employment relationship. For example, ‘non-arms length’ employees will not be considered eligible employees. This includes family members of a family business, directors of a company and shareholders of a company.

A summary of the above can be downloaded here – this a nifty fact sheet from the ATO. Also from the ATO, is this useful JHC payment calculator. Further fact sheets and information can be found here on this ATO page.

If you have hired new employees from October 2020 or are planning to do so in the next 12 months and are interested in the JobMaker Hiring Credit program, please get in touch with us for further information and assistance.

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The “Boosting Cash Flow for Employers” payment (PAYGW Boost Credit)

As part of the economic stimulus triggered by the Corona Virus pandemic, the Federal Government has introduced the “Boosting Cash flow for Employers” measure or as we like to call it, the PAYGW Boost Credit. This measure promises to “refund” the PAYG withholding reported on the BAS or IAS by employers back into their integrated client accounts (ICA) as an offset against any existing BAS/IAS debt. To be clear, this is not a supply of cash to employers into their banks. This is simply crediting PAYGW back into the ICA to effectively reduce BAS/IAS debt. The only time an employer will see any cash is when a refund is created because the PAYGW credit is more than the whole activity statement debt. So who gets these payments, how much do they get and how do they get it? Read on to find out!


WHO IS ELIGIBLE?

Businesses will be eligible for this stimulus measure if they:

  • Held an ABN on 12 March 2020 and continue to be active
  • Are a small or medium business including NFP, sole trader, partnership, company and trust entities.
  • Have an aggregated turnover under $50M
  • Have made payments from which they have been required to withhold (even if this a zero amount). Such payments may include salary and wages, director’s fees, eligible termination payments, compensation payments and withholding from contractor fees.
  • Have made GST taxable, GST free or input taxed sales in a previous tax period since 1 July 2018 and lodged a relevant BAS on or before 12 March 2020.

HOW MUCH IS PAID?

PAYG withholding amounts will be credited back to the integrated client account (ICA) of between $20K and $50K. These credits are not income and as such will not be taxed. The do not have to be repaid ever. The good thing is that the PAYG withholding you report on your BAS will still be tax deductible. Note, if you have a tax debt on your ICA, the credit boost amount will simply pay down that debt.


HOW IS IT PAID?

These credits will be applied in two stages to integrated client accounts after 28th April 2020 and after the March 2020 quarter or monthly BAS is lodged. You do not have to apply for this measure, AND you do not receive any actual cash – this is credit only, not cash paid to your bank. The second stage credit will be applied in quarter 1 of 2020-21.


HOW DO THE PAYMENTS WORK?

Put simply, there are 2 payment stages for this measure. The first stage is a payment of up to $50K based on the amount of PAYGW reported on the March 2020 BAS. Examples below:

Quarterly Lodgers

If your March 2020 BAS shows a PAYGW amount of $12,000, this amount will be credited back to your ICA. In your June 2020 BAS, if a $14,000 PAYGW is reported, then this will also be sent back to the ICA. So far, a total of $26,000 has been credited. This is the first stage amount. The second stage amount will be the same as the first one i.e. $26,000 and will be credited to your ICA split evenly across June to September 2020.

Monthly Lodgers

If your March 2020 BAS shows a PAYGW amount of $12,000, this amount is multiplied by 3 (to take up amounts for January and February 2020) to give you a credit of $36,000. April, May and June 2020 BAS’s will continue to be lodged which may or may not total more than $50K. For this example, let’s say April was $10,000, May was $8,000 and June was $6,000. This will be a total PAYGW of $60,000. As the first stage payable can be no more than $50K, then $50K is all that will be credited to your ICA. The second stage payment will also be $50K.

What if my PAYGW is less than $10K or zero in my March 2020 BAS?

In this case, you will be credited $10K in the first stage of credits and another $10K in the second stage for a total of $20K.

PAYGW Boost Credit Calculator

Here is a great calculator to assist you to work out how much your PAYGW boost credit might be: https://digit.business/payg-cashflow-boost-calculator-advanced


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JobSeeker Payment

The JobSeeker payment will be delivered by Centrelink, now known as Services Australia. It is a new payment designed to assist those who have lost their jobs or had had their income reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here are the details about this payment:

  • To be eligible, you must be between 22 and Age Pension age (those under 22 may be able to claim Youth Allowance).
  • You must be a permanent employee who has been stood down or lost your job, a sole trader, self-employed, a casual or contract worker whose income has reduced, or caring for someone who has been affected by Coronavirus.
  • To register you intent to claim for this payment, you do not need to go to Centrelink. You can do this via your MyGov account (ensure you are linked to Medicare, ATO and/or Centrelink).
  • When you log into MyGov, you will be prompted to register your intention to claim the JobSeeker Payment.
  • After registering, you will be contacted (in time) to complete your application for this payment.
  • Income testing may apply (see below).
  • If you are receiving payments for annual or sick leave or income protection insurance, you will not be eligible for JobSeeker payment until those payments have ceased.
  • You will be required to look for work whilst on JobSeeker payments, however, this requirement has been temporarily lifted up to and including Friday 22 May 2020.
  • Sole traders and self-employed people now earning less than $1,075.00 per fortnight will not have to look for work whilst on JobSeeker payments as long as they continue to operate their businesses. Note, JobSeeker payments are income tested. If your partner earns more than $79,762 a year, you will not be eligible for JobSeeker.
  • Payments will begin on April 27 and will be available for at least six months.

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COVID-19 and Payroll Tax

During the Corona Virus pandemic, the following states have decided to either waive or defer payments of payroll tax. See below for further information.

VICTORIA

For those businesses with a payroll of less than $3M, payroll tax for the whole 2019-20 financial year will be waived.

Also on offer is a deferral of payroll tax payments for businesses as above for the first 3 months of the 2020-21 financial year.

The State Revenue Office will contact eligible businesses by email to advise them about how to apply for the waiver of payments.

NSW

For businesses with payrolls up to $10M, payroll tax will be waived for 3 months, plus another 3 month deferral.

For businesses with payrolls over $10M, payroll tax will be deferred for 6 months.

In the 2020-21 financial year, the payroll tax threshold will be raised to $1M, bringing forward payroll tax cuts.

WA

For businesses with Australia-wide annual wages of less than $7.5M, payroll tax will be waived from 1 March to 30 June 2020.

The payroll tax threshold will increase to $1M from 1 July 2020.

TAS

If a business with a payroll up to $5M can demonstrate negative impact by COVID-19, payroll tax will be waived for the April-June 2020 period.

Businesses in the hospitality, tourism and seafood industries will have their payroll tax waived for March to June 2020.

If a business employs a person aged 24 of less between April and December 2020, they will receive a payroll tax rebate.

QLD

For businesses with payrolls less than $6.5M, payroll tax will be refunded for November and December 2019. Also, payroll tax will not be required to be paid for the January to March 2020 period.

For businesses with payrolls more than $6.5M, payroll tax will be refunded for January and February 2020.

Government is also offering a payroll tax deferral for the 2020 calendar year but this is only by application.

NT

Government has extended the payroll tax exemption for hiring Territory employees to 30 June 2021.

ACT

All businesses required to close due to COVID-19 will receive a payroll tax waiver from April to September 2020.

Businesses with group Australia-wide wages of up to $10M will have their payroll tax deferred for 2020-21 until 1 July 2022.

Building and construction businesses will receive a deferral of payroll tax for the period April to September 2020.

SA

Businesses that can demonstrate significant impact by COVID-19 which have payrolls over $4M, will have their payroll tax deferred for the period April to September 2020.


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Employing staff and Coronavirus: Fairwork directions

Coronavirus (COVID-19) has brought with it great uncertainty and worry amongst the general population, not the least of these, employers and staff. There are many unknowns relating to how to manoeuvre in these difficult times as an employer, especially in terms of ensuring staff are treated correctly and fairly. Recently, Fairwork released some direction for employers on their website. We advise you read the bulk of the details on their page yourself but we do provide a “taste” of the information provided below.


My employee (or his family member) has Coronavirus. What now?

You must direct the employee not to come to work and to only return when s/he has been given medical clearance. If the employee is part or full time, s/he will be able to take paid personal/carers leave. Casual workers will need to take unpaid leave given they do not receive leave entitlements. Workers refusing to use their leave entitlements are not required to be paid. You can ask the employee for evidence of the illness or emergency i.e. doctor’s certificate if required.

My employee wants to stay home to avoid contact with others.

In this case, you need to discuss this with the staff member and come to an agreement that suits you both. If working from home is an option and your staff member agrees to do so, then make arrangements together to ensure this can occur easily and smoothly. If the employee cannot work from home, then you must decide if paid or unpaid leave will be provided. Where an employee refuses to take paid leave (where it is available), then that employee cannot be paid.

I want to tell my employee/s to stay home.

From Fairwork: ” Under workplace health and safety laws, employers must ensure the health and safety of their workers and others at the workplace as far as is reasonably practicable. ” If you believe that it would be best to instruct your staff to stay home due to possible risks from COVID-19, then you certainly can do so. You can organise a “work-from-home” scenario where possible or if not possible, you can direct staff to remain off site but you must be aware as per Fairwork ” where an employer directs a full-time or part-time employee not to work due to workplace health and safety risks but the employee is ready, willing and able to work, the employee is generally entitled to be paid while the direction applies”, and also “standing down employees without pay is not generally available due to a deterioration of business conditions or because an employee has the coronavirus.”

I want to direct staff not to travel.

While you can direct your employees not to travel for work-related events, meetings etc because you want to reduce the risks associated with COVID-19 at your workplace, you cannot ask them to cancel personal travel/trips.


So, in summary, you need to ensure your workplace is safe and you can do this by keeping unwell employees at home and/or all staff at home if required. If your business is structured in such a way that working from home is possible, then certainly bring that to the table and discuss with staff how best to handle that scenario. Part and full time staff should take personal leave if affected by the virus or unpaid leave if they prefer. Similarly, if staff unaffected by COVID-19 request to remain at home and also cannot work from home, they must opt to take annual or unpaid leave. If you direct staff to stay home and there isn’t any evidence that they have been affected by COVID-19, that is, they are well and able to work, then you must continue to pay them as normal. To read the full list of instructions provided by Fairwork, download their factsheet below.

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