A helpful
hand in trying
times

In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Crisis, the Australian Government has announced a number of sweeping changes to our welfare system and safety nets.


This site is intended to help you navigate the confusing wage subsidy, welfare and social support services provided by Centrelink, and state and territory governments during this time.


We will be updating these FAQs, and introducing further tools to help assist you over the coming days.

Chatbot with speech bubble: don't speak government?
Chatbot with speech bubble: not sure where to start?
Service Category FAQ Updated
General
General What To Do What is the difference between JobKeeper and JobSeeker? 4th April 2020

JobKeeper and JobSeeker are very different things but some marketing genius in the PM’s office thought it was a brilliant idea to give them similar names, for a little extra confusion.

Jobkeeper

Is a wage subsidy paid to workplaces (employers), which they have to pass entirely on to workers (employees). It is not welfare or a Centrelink benefit. It is paid to workplaces by the ATO. JobKeeper was introduced by the Government as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

Jobseeker

Is a Centrelink welfare benefit and previously known as NewStart or colloquially known as the dole. It was designed before the COVID-19 crisis however has been modified slightly as a response to COVID-19. Anyone who qualifies for JobSeeker will also receive the Coronavirus Supplement, which is an extra $550 per fortnight. The Government has relaxed the rules slightly, which means you don’t have to be actively seeking work as intensely as you would have previously been required - in recognition that it’s actually quite hard to find work in the current environment.

General What To Do My hours or income has been cut, but I’m still working and have a little bit of income 3rd April 2020

Full-time, part-time or casual (12+ month) employees:

If you are still working, but less than usual, you should ask your workplace if they are eligible for the JobKeeper subsidy.

If your workplace applies for the JobKeeper payment and is approved, they have to pay you a minimum of $1,500 per fortnight.

Even if you are working less than $1,500 per fortnight, they still have to pay you this at a minimum. Yes, this is effectively free money.

Freelancers, artists, self-employed or in the gig economy:

If you work for yourself, and you have determined that your income has declined by 30% compared to the year before, you will be eligible to receive the $1,500 JobKeeper subsidy from the government. As long as your income through your ABN has fallen by at least 30%, you should apply for the JobKeeper subsidy, rather than Centrelink.

Casual (under 12 month) employees:

If you have not been at this workplace for more than 12 months, you will not be eligible for the JobKeeper subsidy. If you are working but earning under a certain amount, you may still be eligible for a small Centrelink payment. Read the FAQ on REPLACE THIS to find out about these rates.

If you have been at this workplace for more than 12 months, you will be eligible for the JobKeeper subsidy. You should ask your workplace if they are eligible for the JobKeeper subsidy.

If your workplace applies for the JobKeeper payment and is approved, they have to pay you a minimum of $1,500 per fortnight.

Even if you are working less than $1,500 per fortnight, they still have to pay you this at a minimum. Yes, this is effectively free money.

General What To Do The workplace I work for has closed and I have been laid off. They will or might reopen after the crisis. 4th April 2020

If the business you worked for shuts its doors and you're made redundant or fired (after March 1), and they will (or might) reopen after the crisis, you should contact your employer (if they haven’t contacted you yet).

They may re-assess their situation and apply for the new JobKeeper subsidy. This may help them afford you as a worker to remain on the books.

If they are eligible for the $1,500 per fortnight subsidy, you will technically be re-employed and paid $1,500 at minimum. As you will technically be employed, you are not eligible for Centrelink.

This $1,500 would have to be paid to you, by your employer. See the FAQ on payment rates for more information.

JobKeeper
Jobkeeper Eligibility Am I Eligible for JobKeeper? 3rd April 2020

Full-time, part-time or casual (12+ month) workers:

Workplaces (employers) will be eligible for the subsidy if:

  • their turnover has fallen by more than 30 per cent (within the month) if they have a turnover of under $1 billion; or
  • their turnover has fallen by more than 50 per cent (within the month) if they have a turnover of under $1 billion

Your workplace will then apply (through the ATO or their accountant) for the $1,500 per fortnight subsidy.

The $1,500 per fortnight will be paid to their bank account and your workplace has to pay it to you.

Sole-traders (freelancers, artists, self-employed or in the gig economy):

Are eligible if their turnover has fallen by more than 30 per cent (within the month) and are operating with an ABN.

Jobkeeper Eligibility What if I have not been operating as a sole-trader (freelancer, artist, self-employed or in the gig economy) for 12 months? 3rd April 2020

If you have not been operating as a sole-trader for 12 months or more, the Tax Commissioner will have discretion to consider additional information that you can provide to establish that you have been adversely affected by the impacts of the Coronavirus.

This means that if you can still apply and will likely be approved if you have been operating for less than 12 months - but may be required to show some other evidence and documents to the ATO later down the track.

JobKeeper Eligibility Workers (employees) that are not Australian citizens 3rd April 2020

HOURS Only Australian Citizens, or people holding a permanent visa, a protected special category visa, a non-protected special category visa who has been residing continually in Australia for 10 years or more, or a New Zealander on a special category (subclass 444) visa are eligible.

This is broader than Centrelink however does not cover all international citizens.

JobKeeper Applying Worker (employee) with multiple workplaces (employers) 3rd April 2020

Where workers have multiple workplaces (employers) – only one workplace will be eligible to receive the subsidy. The worker (employee) should tell their primary workplace to claim the JobKeeper Payment on their behalf.

This will likely be the workplace that you are claiming the ‘tax free threshold’ from. If you don’t know what the ‘tax free threshold’ is, or who you are claiming the it from, simply select the workplace you work the most with.

If you work with different workplaces equally - make a sensible decision based on your relationship with the workplace or boss.

Jobkeeper Applying As a sole-trader (freelancer, artist, self-employed or in the gig economy), do I prove my income has fallen? 3rd April 2020

Self-employed individuals (including freelancers, artists etc) will be eligible to receive the JobKeeper Payment where they expect to suffer a 30% decline in turnover relative to a comparable period a year ago (of at least a month).

To prove that you have faced a 30% fall in revenue, you need to show that your revenue has fallen relative to your revenue in the same month a year earlier. This can also be changed to a 3 month window, if your revenue is less consistent. So compare 3 months to 3 months.

If you have not been operating as a sole-trader for 12 months or more, or if your turnover a year earlier was not representative of your usual or average revenue, the Tax Commissioner will have discretion to consider additional information that you can provide to establish that you have been adversely affected by the impacts of the Coronavirus.

This means that if you can still apply if you have been operating for less than 12 months - but may be required to show some other evidence later down the track.

There will be some tolerance where, in good faith, you estimate a 30% or greater fall in turnover but actually experience a slightly smaller fall.

JobKeeper Obligations My boss has offered to pay me JobKeeper, what do I do? 4th April 2020

If your workplace has offered to take you back on (put you on the books), and pay you the JobKeeper payment after being stood down, or offered to re-hire you as a result of the JobKeeper subsidy - you have two choices:

Your choices are:

  • Apply for or remain on a Centrelink payment

    • Potential positives:
      • You will not have to work. But that may also be a negative, as engaging in work provides positive benefits.
    • Potential negatives:
      • You will not necessarily remain “connected” to your employer.
      • Your employer is not required to keep you on the books (employed) over the course of the crisis and therefore does not have any obligations to employ you after the crisis is over.
      • You won’t receive employee entitlements such as superannuation and leave.
      • Some Centrelink requirements may be an administrative burden to complete.
      • You will not be able to earn much private income, before you are cut off from Centrelink payments.
      • Centrelink payments are less than what your employee would have to pay you under the JobKeeper program.
      • Even if you work under $1,500 worth of your time, you will have to be paid the entire $1,500 from your workplace.
  • Be paid by your employer with the JobKeeper subsidy

    • Potential positives:
      • For some workers (such as casuals or part-time employees, especially those in lower paid industries) the JobKeeper payment is potentially more than they would usually earn as you have to be paid the full $1,500 per fortnight.
      • This keeps you in contact in a relationship with your employer and therefore once the crisis is over, you will likely start to resume a normal employment relationship.
      • You will continue to receive all the employee entitlements such as superannuation and leave.
      • It may help keep your employer’s business viable by participating in the JobKeeper program.
    • Potential negatives:
      • The payment is higher than any Centrelink payments so it is also taxed slightly more. However this is a minor point and not considered to be important in making your decision.
Jobkeeper Obligations What happens once I'm on JobKeeper? 3rd April 2020

Full-time, part-time or casual (12+ month) workers:

The $1,500 per fortnight will be paid to their bank account and your workplace has to pay it to you.

Sole-traders (freelancers, artists, self-employed or in the gig economy):

As a sole trader, you will need to provide the ATO with your business, nominate an individual to receive the payment (yourself) and provide your Tax File Number.

You will need to provide a declaration of your business activity and a monthly update to declare your continued eligibility for the payments. Payment will be made monthly to your bank account.

JobKeeper Payments As a worker (employee), how do I receive this money and how much will I get? 3rd April 2020

Full-time, part-time or casual (12+ month) employees:

Workers (employees) will receive this payment in a number of different ways.

  • If you normally receive $1,500 or more per fortnight (before tax), you will continue to receive your regular income from your workplace, so long as you continue to work the same amount. The JobKeeper payment will simply provide a subsidy to your workplace.
  • If you normally receive less than $1,500 per fortnight (before tax), your workplace must pay you, at a minimum, $1,500 per fortnight (before tax). There is a chance your workplace will make you work more hours in this case. If you start to work more than $1,500 worth per fortnight, you have to be paid extra from your workplace.
  • If you have been stood down (and remain stood down), your employer must pay you, at a minimum, $1,500 per fortnight (before tax). If you remain stood down, you do not have to work to receive the $1,500 but must go back to work as soon as the crisis stops impacting your work.
  • If you were employed on 1 March 2020, and then ceased employment due to the crisis, and then were re-hired by the same employer, you will receive, at a minimum, $1,500 per fortnight (before tax)

The $1,500 payment is paid to your workplace (employer) and your workplace will have to pay you as they regularly would, through the normal payroll process. This includes superannuation payments.

Freelancers, artists, self-employed or in the gig economy:

If you fall into this category (operate under an ABN) you will receive the $1,500 payment from the ATO (after submitting your JobKeeper application online) to your nominated bank account.

JobKeeper Payments Are the JobKeeper payments taxed? 3rd April 2020

Yes, they’re taxed just as normal income is taxed. But so are Centrelink payments.

JobKeeper Payments Will I still be paid superannuation on JobKeeper? 3rd April 2020

Yes, your employer has to pay superannuation just as they normally would.

Jobseeker
Jobseeker Applying How do I apply for a Centrelink payment? 4th April 2020

Try to do as much as you can online. Avoid ringing the Centrelink or Services Australia hotline and avoid going into a service centre.

Click on the links in this step-by-step guide as you go.

If you have received Centrelink payments in the past, including as a young person or while studying, and have a MyGov and Centrelink account linked, jump to step 4.

  • Create a MyGov account
  • .
  • Once logged in, click “register your intent to claim” with Centrelink. More information about how to register your intent to claim can be found on the Services Australia page.

  • Next, Centrelink will contact you to confirm your identity. They will ask for identity details from a documents such as a passport or drivers licence. See their website for the full list of valid documents.

    At this point they will give you your Customer Reference Number (CRN) and a linking code. You’ll need these to set up access to your Centrelink online account.

    • Log in to MyGov and go to your Centrelink account
    • Select “make a claim” from the menu or home page
    • You will need to select the section that says “Looking for work” (unless you are a student).
    • This will have you apply for JobSeeker. Find out more about the JobSeeker and Coronavirus supplement. If you are a student or apprentice, select the relevant section.
    • You'll have to submit any required documents online now, but you'll have 14 days to submit any supplementary documents.
  • As part of the claim, you may need to book a phone appointment. Some people have reported problems with the website at this point (among others).

    You'll need to make a note of your appointment time and make sure your phone is with you.

    They'll call from a private number. Answer it!

  • Wait.

  • Centrelink will let you know if your claim has been approved. If it is, they'll tell you when you need to report to them, and how. This may come through your MyGov inbox or the Express Plus Centrelink app (if you've downloaded it) or by post.

  • You'll have to report every two weeks. It just means letting Centrelink know how much money you earned over the past 14 days and confirming you've stuck to the mutual obligations laid out in your job plan.

    If you don't report, you won't get paid. If you're late reporting, your payment will be late.

    You can report online or over the phone.

Jobseeker Applying What is registering an "intent to apply", and how do I do this? 4th April 2020

Importantly, registering your intent to apply is not the same as applying.

Instead it marks the date from which you start trying to apply, and in turn is the date your payments will be backdated to (should your application be successful).

*If you registered your intent to apply between the 23rd and 29th March (and submit your full claim by 19 April 2020) your backpayments will start from the 23rd of March.

Jobseeker Payments Will payments be backdated? 4th April 2020

Yes.

Payments will be backdated to when you first register your intent to claim.

  • If you registered between the 23rd and 29th of March, your payments will start from the 23rd of March, as long as you submit your full claim by 19 April 2020.
  • If you register from the 30th of Marchyour payment will start from the date you registered your intention to claim, if your claim is accepted.