Around 900,000 businesses have indicated they want a share of the federal government’s historic $130 billion JobKeeper payment to cushion the impact of coronavirus.
Millions of workers in Australia are set to receive the $1,500 per fortnight payment after finding themselves out of work because of restrictions to protect the community from COVID-19.
The fortnightly sum accounts for the full median wage of some of the most heavily affected sectors such as retail, hospitality and tourism, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said Friday.
So far, more than 400,000 businesses have enrolled to receive the payment, providing wages for about 2.4 million people.
Mr Frydenberg sought to clarify eligibility for the payment for specific groups including teenagers, charities and religious leaders.
Sixteen and 17-year-olds who have already received a couple of JobSeeker payments, in many cases much higher than their original income, will no longer receive the payment. The government clarified the payment would only be available to those teens who are financially independent.
Religious practitioners will be eligible for the JobKeeper payment, as the government recognises many of them are not ’employees’ of their institutions.
Charities will be able to exclude any pre-existing government funding from the JobKeeper eligibility test, meaning they should not be adversely affected in delivering significant, government-funded services.
Anglicare Australia and UnitingCare Australia said this change would stop them from standing down valued staff, many of whom are trained in essential areas like childcare and disability.
“They will be critical to restarting the economy and recovering from this downturn,” the charities said.
The treasurer clarified employers cannot pick and choose which of their employees will receive the payment. Instead, the ‘one in, all in’ principle means if an employer enrols for the scheme, all eligible employees must be included.
The government has issued a stern warning to the big four banks over concerns bridging finance is not being provided to businesses waiting for JobKeeper payments.
Special hotlines have been set up to help businesses get bridging finance until JobKeeper money arrives in their account.
Originally published as Almost 1m businesses want JobKeeper pay