JobSeeker and JobKeeper are changing. Here's how you could be affected

The next stage of JobSeeker and JobKeeper has been revealed.

A line at a Centrelink earlier in the pandemic.

A line at a Centrelink earlier in the pandemic. Source: AAP

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced the future of JobSeeker and JobKeeper – the two government support programs that millions of Australians have been relying on during the pandemic.

On Tuesday, Mr Morrison said there would be major changes to each of these and that both will be scaled down.

Here's how you may be affected.


Australians and permanent residents on JobSeeker

In March, the government renamed the Newstart unemployment payment to JobSeeker and added a $550 fortnightly supplement, which effectively doubled the rate.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced changes to the JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced changes to the JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments. Source: AAP

On Tuesday, Mr Morrison said the benefit will remain at $1,100 a fortnight until 27 September.

From that date until the end of 2020, the $550 fortnightly supplement will be cut by $300 to make the overall fortnightly payment $800.

In addition, the mutual obligation rules requiring people to search for four jobs a month will restart in August and the assets test will be reintroduced in September.

Employment Minister Michaelia Cash and Social Services Minister Anne Ruston gave more details on this in a joint statement.

"From 4 August 2020, job seekers are expected to participate in appointments with providers, agree to a Job Plan, undertake a job search, and attend activities if it is safe to do so. If a job seeker is unable to meet their requirements no payment suspensions or financial penalties will be applied," it said.

"However, the government expects job seekers who are in receipt of an income support payment to be willing to accept any offer of suitable paid work."

"From 4 August 2020, if a job seeker refuses an offer of suitable employment – without a valid reason – they may have their payment cancelled, and may need to wait for four weeks before they can reapply for income support."

Unemployment is expected to peak at nine and a quarter per cent.
Unemployment is expected to peak at nine and a quarter per cent. Source: AAP

The future of the permanent dole rate is expected to be revealed in the 6 October budget.

Mr Morrison indicated JobSeeker was unlikely to return to its pre-pandemic level in 2021.

"I am leaning heavily into the notion that we would anticipate, based on what we know right now, that there obviously would need to be some continuation of the COVID supplement post-December," he said.

Australians and permanent residents on JobKeeper

Also announced in March, the JobKeeper scheme was intended to be a temporary subsidy for businesses that were hit by the pandemic.

Under the scheme, eligible employees, sole traders and others have been able to receive $1,500 per fortnight.

On Tuesday, Mr Morrison announced the JobKeeper wage subsidy will continue until 27 September.

It will then be cut into two tiers: one for full-time workers and one for part-time workers.

From the end of September until January 2021, JobKeeper will be reduced to $1,200 for full-time workers and $750 for people working 20 hours or less.

From January to March, the full-time rate will be $1,000 and part-time will reduce to $600.

Businesses turning over less than $1 billion will have to requalify for the program by showing a 30 per cent drop in revenue from pre-pandemic levels.

Businesses with more than $1 billion in turnover have to demonstrate a 50 per cent fall.

Treasury forecasts it will cover 1.4 million workers between October and December, and a million in the following quarter.

Why are the JobSeeker and JobKeeper timeframes different?

There has been some confusion as to why the JobSeeker extension is until December but JobKeeper goes until March.

Mr Morrison has clarified this.

"There is a difference between JobKeeper and JobSeeker," he said.

"JobKeeper requires that six-month period for employers to be able to plan. For those who are on JobSeeker, their plan is there and that is for us to assist them where possible to get them back into employment," he said.

Who's excluded?

Previous JobKeeper eligibilities remain in place, such as casual employees can only receive the payment if they have been with an employer for 12 months.

These measures have meant short-term casuals, along with irregular workers and many in the arts sector continue to miss out on the benefit.

"Labor remains concerned that too many people are being left behind," opposition leader Anthony Albanese said on Tuesday.

And advocacy groups were quick to point out that temporary visa holders are still excluded from these support measures.

"We are very disappointed that today's announcement has not closed the gaps in the scheme which have left temporary migrants in desperate circumstances, without access to JobKeeper, JobSeeker or Medicare," Australian Council of Social Service CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said in a statement.

Additional reporting: AAP

Residents in metropolitan Melbourne are subject to stay-at-home orders and can only leave home for essential work, study, exercise or care responsibilities. People are also advised to wear masks in public.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

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5 min read
Published 21 July 2020 at 4:40pm
By Nick Baker, Evan Young