Date posted: 18/09/2020

Accountants again under pressure to implement Jobkeeper 2.0

The release of the legislative rules for JobKeeper 2.0 yesterday highlights yet again the vital role accountants are playing during the COVID-19 emergency in helping Australians and businesses access the extended wage subsidy and other stimulus measures.

According to Michael Croker, Head of Tax at Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, JobKeeper 2.0 adds pressure to help employers and eligible employees access the higher “Tier 1” level of subsidy ($1,200 per fortnight) from 28 September 2020. 

With the phrase ‘please boss, get me the higher rate’ likely already being heard by many employers, Mr Croker said the answer to that requires the employer to carefully consider hours worked – a particularly important issue for part-time and long-term casual employees. 

"Those who fall short on their hours get the lower Tier 2 amount of $750 per fortnight and in times like this, that makes a difference with further JobKeeper declines to come 4 January 2021,” said Mr Croker.  

“Individual circumstances of employees should also be considered carefully. In limited circumstances, employees who were ineligible for JobKeeper 1.0 may find they are now eligible for JobKeeper 2.0.

“Employee eligibility should be re-examined as at 1 July 2020 as some may have become ‘long-term’ casuals by then or have turned 18 or been let-go and re-hired. JobKeeper on-boarding of these newly eligible employees needs to be done quickly. 

“Clear communication with all employees is also vital for maintaining good worker relations and helping employees make important financial decisions.

“For employer eligibility, many currently receiving JobKeeper and still doing it tough will re-qualify but they need to be aware of new actual turnover decline tests.

”These new actual turnover decline tests are for the two periods in the JobKeeper extension: 28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021, and 4 January 2021 to 28 March 2021.

“Data contained in the Business Activity Statement (BAS) is the key, and those employers with outstanding BAS lodgements need to get their skates on,” said Mr Croker.

Mr Croker welcomed the ability of employers who have previously not received JobKeeper to jump aboard JobKeeper 2.0.

“Employers in this category need to pass a special turnover decline test which ‘builds’ on the original JobKeeper 1.0 decline in turnover test and satisfy the new JobKeeper 2.0 test. They should take special care to document their turnover calculations.

”Chartered Accountants ANZ continues to work with a range of regulators including Treasury, the ATO and Fair Work officials behind the scenes to advocate for the accounting profession, their clients and the broader Australian community. 

“Our interaction with Fair Work relates to the 10% decline in turnover certification CAs can give those employers who, although no longer eligible for JobKeeper from 28 September, want to give workplace directions to employees. Here again, the accountants’ role has important ramifications for employers and workers.”