COVID-19 JobKeeper Payment Explained

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The Australian Government has announced a JobKeeper Payment that is a wage subsidy intended to help employers retain employees during the COVID – 19 emergency.  The JobKeeper Payment is a flat payment of $1,500 per fortnight paid to an eligible employer for each eligible employee they employ.  Not for profit organizations and self-employed persons (including owner-drivers) are included.

Employers must apply for the payment through the Australian Tax Office (ATO).  Registration is open now.

The JobKeeper Payment will be available from 30 March 2020 for a period of six months.  Payment will be made through the tax system in the first week of May 2020.

To be eligible for the payment, an employer must both be eligible itself and have eligible employees.


An employer will be eligible if it:

  • Has a turnover less than $1 billion and turnover has or will be reduced by 30% compared to a relative period in the previous year; or
  • Has a turnover of more than $1 billion and turnover has or will be reduced by 50% compared to a relative period in the previous year; and
  •  Is not subject to the Major Bank Levy.

An employer will be required to provide supporting information about its turnover and the number of eligible employees for each month.


An eligible employee is:

  • Employed by the employer on 01 March 2020 and continues to be employed by that employer.  Full time, part time, long term casual, and stood down employees are included.  A long-term casual is one employed on a regular basis in the 12 months to 01 March 2020; or
  •  An employee that was dismissed before the scheme started and has been re-employed by their employer as at 01 March 2020; and
  • An Australian citizen, permanent visa holder, Protected Special Category Visa Holder, non-protected Special Category Visa Holder who has been an Australian resident for at least 10 years, or a Special Category (444) Visa Holder.

An employee that receives a JobSeeker Payment is not eligible for the JobKeeper wage subsidy as well and must report JobKeeper payments to Centrelink.

Self Employed:

A self-employed person is eligible if their income has reduced by at least 30% compared to a similar period last year.


The Payment:

  • If an employer claims a JobKeeper Payment for an employee they must pay at least that amount to the employee.  If an employee normally gets paid less than $1 500 a fortnight pre-tax, they are to be paid $1 500.  If the employee is normally paid more than $1 500 pre-tax a fortnight, they are paid their normal amount.
  • An employee that is stood down they are to be paid $1 500 a fortnight pre-tax.
  • An employee that was employed on 01 March 2020 and dismissed and re-employed by the same employer is to be paid a minimum of $1 500 a fortnight pre-tax.
  • Superannuation on any extra amount received by an employee above their normal pay because of the JobKeeper Payment is not compulsory.

Payment will be made by the ATO in arrears.

More Information:

Supporting businesses to retain jobs