JobKeeper and JobSeeker extensions: What the new payments mean for you

Today, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced the JobKeeper wage subsidy and JobSeeker Coronavirus supplement will continue beyond the planned September end date.

While payments will be reduced, eligible Australians will be able to access JobKeeper payments until March 28, 2021. JobSeeker will also continue at a reduced rate, but with altered eligibility criteria, until the end of the year before being reviewed again. 

What’s changed for JobKeeper?

From September 28, the JobKeeper subsidy will be reduced to $1,200 a fortnight for full-time workers and $750 for those working less than 20 hours a week. From the March quarter, those numbers will reduce to $1,000 and $650 respectively.

The requirement for businesses to prove a reduction in turnover by at least 30% compared to pre-pandemic levels will remain, and need to be proved each financial quarter.

The JobKeeper subsidy has been assisting struggling businesses by providing fortnightly payments which are passed on to employees. The subsidy was originally $1,500 per employee each fortnight. 

In today’s announcement, Frydenberg said the reduced extension of the scheme until March 2021 would cost $16 billion, bringing the total cost of the program to $86 billion. 

What’s changed for JobSeeker?

Previously, those eligible for JobSeeker, which replaced the Newstart income support payment when the pandemic hit Australia, were receiving an additional $550 each fortnight, on top of other government payments.

From September 28 until the end of the year, the Coronavirus supplement will be reduced to $250 a fortnight. 

This means the highest amount someone on Newstart can receive per fortnight will be reduced from $1,115.70 to $815.70.

Some eligibility criteria have also changed. The income threshold will be increased to $300, meaning recipients can make that amount each fortnight before their income support is affected. The mutual obligation requirement to resume job searches (four each month) via an employment services provider will also recommence on August 4. 

In regards to JobSeeker, Morrison said the government expects, “there would be likely a need to continue those supplements post-December.” He didn’t say if an increase to the base rate of Newstart was under discussion, but did say, “at some point I imagine that will come into our calculations.”

Planning timeframes were provided as the reason for discrepancies between the extensions of the two support payments.

“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,” Morrison said.

How to get the JobKeeper or JobSeeker payment extension

If you’re already receiving these income support payments, you don’t need to do anything as the fortnightly payment will simply be adjusted and sent to your bank account as usual. 

If you are yet to receive JobSeeker and are now eligible, you’ll need to follow the same steps as earlier in the year:

  • Log in or register for a Centrelink account and make sure it’s linked to your MyGov account.

  • Select ‘Payments and Claims’ from the menu to begin the claim process.

Applying for JobKeeper is still in the hands of eligible employers, who apply on behalf of employees. If you want to nominate your organisation for the payment, they’ll need to provide you with an employee nomination notice to fill out.

Worried about your personal finances? Our guide to Covid-19 and your finances will help keep your money moves on track with the latest news about the developing economic situation.