Business backs revision of JobKeeper scheme

The Federal government has received a positive response from the business community for the significant changes it has made to the JobKeeper program in the light of the rise in COVID-19 cases in parts of the country.

Under these changes, businesses and not-for-profits that plan to claim JobKeeper must demonstrate a significant fall in turnover for the September quarter compared to the same period last year. Previously, JobKeeper applicants would have to show a significant fall in turnover in both the June and September quarters.

The move is designed to give struggling businesses easier access to the program, which has received an injection of a further $15 billion, taking its total funding to just over $100 billion.

Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott said the changes will make it easier for businesses to retain workers and boost confidence overall.

“The changes to the eligibility test reflect the upheaval and uncertainty in the jobs market and the changes to the turnover test reflect that businesses are struggling,” Westacott said.

Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO James Pearson agreed, though shared a caveat, saying, “Despite these changes…this revision will not provide help to every business that is struggling and we will continue to work with government on ways that jobs and businesses can receive the support needed.”

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the government remains focused on saving lives and jobs simultaneously.

“The JobKeeper program is there when the virus hits and it’s hit hard in Victoria in particular,” Morrison said. “There’ll be some additional people who get access to it we expect in other states and territories but it’s principally Victoria.”

Staff employed as of 1 July are eligible to access the program, with an additional 530,000 Victorian employees expected to receive JobKeeper in the September quarter, bringing the total to 1.5 million workers across the state. It is also expected that Victoria will have the most number of JobKeeper recipients at 60 per cent by the March quarter.

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