Rebekha supports passage of JobKeeper 2.0 legislation

26 Aug 2020
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Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie has welcomed the passage of the legislation extending the JobKeeper scheme through the House of Representatives.

The Coronavirus Economic Response Package (JobKeeper Payments) Amendment Bill 2020 passed the Lower House tonight and is scheduled to be debated by the Senate tomorrow.

“The economy in my electorate is recovering slowly but there are some sectors that still need support and some businesses just starting to turn a profit that really need some workplace flexibility. JobKeeper 2.0 will enable that recovery to continue,” Rebekha said.

“The Government's initial JobKeeper package was in no way perfect but it was implemented quickly and efficiently, and it prevented thousands of businesses from closing their doors and tens of thousands of people from losing their jobs.

“In my electorate 4,604 businesses registered for JobKeeper in the first month it was available. That's close to half of the 11,000 plus businesses in Mayo.”

The legislation that passed through the Lower House today will:

  • Extend the JobKeeper scheme for six months, until March 28 next year, at reduced rates.
  • Reduce the current flat rate of $1,500 to $1,200 a fortnight for full-time workers and to $750 for part-time workers, at the end of September.
  • Reduce the rate again at the beginning of January to $1000 for full-time workers and $650 for part-time employees working 20 hours a week or less.
  • Allow ‘legacy’ employers accessing JobKeeper under the first scheme to negotiate hours and tasks with employees but employees must work at least two consecutive hours a day.
  • Require ‘legacy’ employers accessing JobKeeper under the first scheme to consult with employees about changing work roles and to give at least seven-days’ notice to employees about changes.

Businesses accessing JobKeeper are still required to meet the eligibility criteria of a 30 per cent downturn in income compared with the same period pre-COVID-19 in 2019. This test applies at the end of September and again at the start of January.

Businesses with turnovers of more than $1 billion had to show a 50 per cent decline to be eligible. Registered charities (other than universities and schools) had to show a 15 per cent downturn.

The new legislation also allows businesses who are no longer eligible for JobKeeper, but with a turnover down between 10 and 30 per cent, to reduce employees’ working hours to 60 per cent of pre-COVID-19 levels - if there is less work for them because of the pandemic.

“JobKeeper 2.0 will allow those businesses who are not yet on their feet to still have that flexibility,” Rebekha said.

“The scheme will also provide flexibility for those businesses who are just starting to bounce back. They are not quite eligible for JobKeeper but they need that flexibility with working hours for employees in order to remain sustainable.

“This flexibility helps the business while still providing protections for their employees.”

Rebekha said JobKeeper had been a financial lifebuoy for her electorate where more than 90 per cent of businesses are small businesses.

“The recent break in parliament gave me the opportunity to travel the length and breadth of my community and visit many small businesses and hear from them regarding how they have been able to quickly adapt because of JobKeeper,” Rebekha said.

“The Ozone Hotel on Kangaroo Island had trading restrictions so some of their staff put down their chef hats and picked up paint brushes and transformed an old section of the hotel into a modern lounge bar.

“There is also David Kerr from the Quarter Mile Cafe in Mount Barker who was able to keep his staff employed through JobKeeper, which in turn enabled his team to produce 500 litres of soup to donate to local families doing it tough during the pandemic.”

Photo: Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie with David Keir from the Quarter Mile Cafe in Mount Barker.

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