JobKeeper subsidies will be a vital support for cafes, restaurants and foodservice businesses that have remained open. Even some that have closed may decide to reopen as they can now afford to employ people again. As one cafe owner said, ‘it’s like a dream, we get our staff for free!’. Of course it’s not quite that simple.
Use this Q&A to find the information you need. Government policy and regulations are changing fast, so we are providing links to the best sites that will give you the facts and guidance you need.
What businesses are eligible for the JobKeeper subsidy payments?
JobKeeper is available to businesses with annual turnover of less than $1 billion, and that have seen a 30% drop in turnover due to the coronavirus. Not-for-profits like community cafes, and self-employed people like consultant chefs are also eligible, if they meet these requirements. If your business has been open for less than 12 months: ‘the Tax Commissioner will have discretion to consider additional information that the business or not-for-profit can provide to establish that they have been significantly affected by the impacts of the Coronavirus.’
You will need to prove a 30% drop in sales, and the more you have well-organised accounts and bookwork to prove your case, the quicker you will receive payments. DIY bookkeeping can be very expensive unless you know what you’re doing – professional assistance is highly recommended to get the maximum subsidy.
Which staff are eligible?
The subsidy is available to a business for full-time, part-time and casual employees over the age of 16 who were employed on March 1, 2020. Employees stood down in March 2020 will be eligible and can be re-employed. To be eligible, employees must have been employed on a regular basis for 12 months, as of March 1, 2020. Employees can only receive the JobKeeper payment from one employer. Some employees on working or visitor visas are eligible and some are not - there are updates every few days. Check the latest information on the Australian Government's Support for Business.
Staff who have been paid cash and are not on the books, or people who have been with you for less than 12 months, will not be eligible – this will make it difficult for informal businesses to claim JobKeeper subsidy. The ATO has now made payroll compliance much more important.
How to Claim for JobKeeper – go here to register your interest. You will need your business name, ABN, and contact details. Later, there will be an online application form to complete.
The JobKeeper scheme will be managed by the Australian Taxation Office, using the payroll information returns you provide through the Single Touch Payroll system each week. Registered employers will receive $1,500 for each eligible employee, including those that have been stood down or recently rehired, every two weeks.
If an employee usually earns more than that amount, the employer can choose to top up their wage payment. Employers have questions about paying staff who have been earning less than $1500 per week, and what right the employer has to direct them to do more hours.
Payments are due to start in the first week of May 2020 and will be backdates to March 30.
Important sources of information:
Coronavirus Information Hub – Restaurant & Catering Australia. Join their free email list to get daily updates on government policy changes and new financial support.
Australian Government Support for Business
Chris Green’s Financial Relief During Coronavirus Information Page