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JobKeeper – Myths and Must Do’s

Over the last few weeks, we have all been forced to become experts in understanding a ton of rules and regulations, Everything from whether we can go and visit family or go fishing, to complex legislation surrounding the Federal Governments 3 Stimulus Package announcements.

This has been no more obvious than with JobKeeper, the $1500 per employee, fortnightly top up scheme to help businesses keep their staff engaged.

As with anything that captures the public’s interest, everyone has an opinion and can offer you well meaning advice.

But beware, there are some really complex areas and everyone’s circumstances are different. What’s more, the legislation has some integrity measures  with BIG teeth, waiting to pin the unsuspecting business owner who may try and beat the system.

So what should we be doing, what information is right?

Some of the Myths:

  • Backdating payroll to pay family members – Some business owners will try this one. DON’T. The ATO now have Single Touch Payroll data on a pay by pay basis to catch up on this one.

  • “I can pick and choose who gets JobKeeper” – You CAN’T. The system is a One in ALL In process. The only way an employee can be excluded is if they don’t nominate to receive JobKeeper from you as an employer.

  • I don’t have to pay my staff until end of month. I don’t have the money!” – Unfortunately, you cannot do this. Whilst it may be a cashflow squeeze for you to do it, the government’s expectation is that payments need to have been made to the employee prior to claiming JobKeeper.

So what are the Must Do’s?

  • Assess your eligibility as an employer/business. This will include applying the Decline in Turnover Test. For most small business owners, they must show a 30% decline in turnover between the test period and the comparison period. In most cases the comparison period will be the same period last year, however there will be exceptions say for startups or those affected by other events in prior years such as drought.

  • Once eligibility is determined, a business has to Enrol for the Jobkeeper scheme via either the ATO’s Business Portal or their Tax Agent/Accountant. Recent changes to the ATO’s Business Portal may mean business owners need to obtain a MyGovID (different to MyGov) to access. Enrolment opens 20th April and must be done by 30th April if you want to claim payments for that month. ***UPDATE*** The ATO have announced an extension to 31 May to enrol to be eligible for the April Jobkeeper payments. The quicker you enrol though, the quicker you will get payment.

  • After enrolling, a business will need to then APPLY for JobKeeper, through the same channels as enrolling. The application process will require the identification of the eligible employees and the wages paid. For those already registered for Single Touch payroll, your payroll system should allow easy access to this info. Products like Xero Payroll are great for this. The application for JobKeeper for payments relating to April must be done between May 4th and May 31st.

  • Subsequent to the initial application, the business will need to lodge a monthly Jobkeeper declaration, again through the same channels as above.

  • Throughout all of this, there is communication that must go between the employer and the employee, advising of Jobkeeper having been applied for.

As you can see, there is a lot to the scheme, I have only covered the bare bones here. If you need information on how the scheme may apply to your business, whatever you do, get qualified professional advice, and as always, we can help with that.

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