Assistance for those impacted by COVID-19: What’s been put in place for Australian workers

18 March 2020

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The Australian Government is taking a range of measures to provide support and financial assistance to working Australians impacted by COVID-19. Here’s what you need to know.

Key points: How is the Government supporting Australians?

The Australian government has announced more payments and has streamlined claims for job seekers affected by Coronavirus. The government is in the process of passing legislation to:

  • pay Australian workers a ‘JobKeeper’ allowance of $1,500 per fortnight to cover their share of income

  • pay a temporary fortnightly $550 Coronavirus Supplement from 27 April 2020 if you’re getting an eligible payment

  • extend eligibility for the first $750 Economic Support Payment to pay it from 31 March 2020 if you’re getting an eligible payment on any day from 12 March to 13 April 2020

  • expand eligibility for some payments and make them easier to claim

  • make Crisis Payment available if you need to self-isolate, are in severe financial hardship and you can get an income support payment 

  • pay a second $750 Economic Support Payment from 13 July 2020 if you’re getting an eligible payment or have an eligible concession card on 10 July 2020.

‘Job Keeper’ Allowance

The first measure that the Australian government is taking is a “job keeper” payment, which is a wage subsidy extended to employers who do not stand down their employees. It’s a strategy that is aimed at preserving jobs and will amount to $1500 per employee per fortnight (the package said to total $130 billion).

The government first announced this payment on 30 March 2020 and intends for the subsidy to last for six months.

Coronavirus Supplement

On 22 March 2020, the Government announced it will provide a temporary Coronavirus Supplement to new and existing income support recipients.

You’ll automatically get the supplement if you’re getting one of these payments:

  • JobSeeker Payment

  • Sickness Allowance

  • Youth Allowance for jobseekers

  • Parenting Payment Partnered

  • Parenting Payment Single

  • Partner Allowance

  • Sickness Allowance

  • Farm Household Allowance

The supplement will be an extra $550 a fortnight on top of the normal payment rate.

People who are already getting these payments do not need to do anything to receive the Coronavirus Supplement. If eligible, payments will start automatically from 27 April 2020 and will be paid each fortnight for up to 6 months.

People who are not getting a payment but are eligible need to make a claim via myGov using a Centrelink online account. Alternatively, contact Centrelink directly.

More access to payments

The Government will also temporarily expand eligibility and qualification criteria for Jobseeker Payment and Youth Allowance to assist:

  • Permanent employees who have been stood down or lost their job

  • Sole traders and self-employed people

  • Casual or contract workers whose income has reduced due to Coronavirus 

  • People caring for someone who is affected by Coronavirus. 

Please note: income testing will still apply.

The Government will also temporarily waive the following for certain payments:

  • the assets test

  • the Ordinary Waiting Period (already waived for three months until 12 June 2020)

  • the Liquid Assets Waiting Period

  • the Seasonal Workers Preclusion Period

  • the Newly Arrived Residents Waiting Period.

Also, from 27 April 2020, access to payments will also become easier due to the temporary removal of the requirement for:

  • an Employment Separation Certificate

  • proof of rental arrangements 

  • verification of relationship status.

What is Crisis Payment?

If you cannot work because you’re isolated at home due to coronavirus and don’t have any leave entitlements you may be eligible for Crisis Payment. The government may pay you Crisis Payment if you’re in severe financial hardship and you get an income support payment like JobSeeker Payment or Youth Allowance for job seekers.

Crisis Payment is a one-off payment equal to a week’s pay of your existing income support payment rate.

Two Economic Support Payments

If you’re not eligible for the Coronavirus Supplement you may get a $750 Economic Support Payment. 

On 12 March 2020, the Government announced that it would provide an Economic Support payment of $750 to:

  • Social Security and Veterans’ income support recipients

  • Farm Household Allowance (FHA) recipients

  • Family Tax Benefit (FTB) recipients 

  • Holders of a Pensioner Concession Card, Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC) or Commonwealth Gold Card who were eligible on 12 March 2020.

And on the 22 of March 2020, eligibility for this payment was extended to people who were eligible for their payment or card between 12 March 2020 and 13 April 2020 (inclusive). 

The Government also announced that there will be a second Economic Support payment, also to the amount of $750.  You may get it if you were eligible on 10 July 2020 for any payments or concession cards that were eligible for the first economic support payment.

The second Economic Support Payment will be payable from 13 July 2020. However, you cannot get this payment if you are already getting the Coronavirus Supplement.

Can I access employer entitlements or income protection insurance while receiving JobSeeker Payment or Youth Allowance?

No. You cannot access employer entitlements, such as annual leave or sick leave, or income protection insurance at the same time as getting JobSeeker Payment or Youth Allowance for job seekers.

Early access to Superannuation

If you meet certain requirements, the government will allow people who are affected by the Coronavirus crisis to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation this year and a further $10,000 next year.

How do I know what I am eligible for?

Every set of circumstances are different. If you have been impacted by COVID-19, contact Centrelink to see what you are eligible for based on your specific circumstances.

About Trojan Recruitment Group

Trojan Recruitment offers a wide range of outsourcing and consulting services, as well as temporary, contract, and permanent employment solutions across Australia. We help businesses attract, retain and engage the best people and help individuals find permanent, temporary and contract jobs.