The Australian Government has announced a range of measures to support organisations with the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic. We know this is a very challenging time for community mental health organisations and MHCC is keen to assist members to become familiar with the financial subsidies available. The information below includes links to relevant websites and should you have any questions or require further assistance please contact Corinne Henderson at firstname.lastname@example.org
To boost cash flow for employers the Government announced that it is providing up to $100,000 to eligible small and medium sized businesses, including not‑for-profits (including charities) that employ people, with a minimum payment of $20,000. These payments will help businesses’ and not-for-profits’ cash flow so they can keep operating, pay their rent, electricity and other bills and retain staff.
Under the enhanced scheme from the first package, employers will receive a payment equal to 100 per cent of their salary and wages withheld (up from 50 per cent), with the maximum payment being increased from $25,000 to $50,000. In addition, the minimum payment is being increased from $2,000 to $10,000. The payment will be available from 28 April 2020. This measure will benefit around 30,000 NFPs (including charities).
By linking the payments to staff wage tax withholdings, it is hoped organisations will be incentivised to hold on to more of their workers. The payments are tax free, there will be no new forms and payments will flow automatically through the ATO.
The Government have also announced a $130 billion wage subsidy package. This subsidy package provides further support to Australian businesses encouraging them to keep their workers employed by providing a “JobKeeper” payment to eligible employers for eligible employees.
Eligible employers who have been affected by COVID-19 can apply to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to access a subsidy from the Government of $1,500 per fortnight for each eligible employee from 30 March 2020 for a maximum of 6 months.
Who is an eligible employer?
Eligible employers include not for profit entities, charities and self-employed individuals.
(Self-employed individuals includes businesses without employees.)
The initial announcement defined eligible employers as a business whose:
On 5 April the Treasurer announced that charities that are registered with the national regulator will be eligible for the JobKeeper Payment if they have suffered a 15 per cent decline in turnover as a result of the coronavirus. Legislation to be introduced into the Parliament this week will include a concessional test for ACNC registered charities.
The Government has said a reduced threshold at which a charity is considered to be substantially affected by the coronavirus, as compared to businesses and other not-for-profits, will support a sector which is expected to have a significant increase in demand for its services. Further details of the Treasurers announcement are here. Please note this has not yet been legislated.
Who is an eligible employee?
Eligible employees are defined as employees who:
Note: from the definition above, it appears employees who hold temporary visas may not be eligible for this payment unless they fall into one of the categories above.
If you have laid off staff between 1 March – 30 March 2020, you may be entitled to receive the subsidy in relation to the employee if re-hired.Employers will be required to ensure eligible employees will receive, at a minimum, $1,500 per fortnight before tax. The current STP system will allow the ATO to check that the payments are made to the eligible employees.
How do you apply?
Employers can register their interest in applying for the payment on the ATO website, available at: https://www.ato.gov.au/Job-keeper-payment/ from 30 March 2020
Please note: Monthly reports will need to be provided to the ATO to continue the payments.
Businesses without employees will need to provide an ABN for their business and nominate an individual to receive the payment. People who are self-employed will need to provide a monthly update to the ATO to declare their continued eligibility for the payments. Payment will be made monthly to the individual’s bank account.
To read additional information fact sheet click here JobKeeper payments will commence in the first week of May 2020 but will be back dated to 30 March 2020. Employers will need to continue wages payments until the ATO payments are received.
When will this become law?
The Government have suggested that the legislation is a being drafted and will be passed through parliament shortly thereafter.
It will be difficult to make any decisions regarding staffing until there is further information on how the subsidy will be applied. The benefits of being able to retain key team members will mean that your organisation will be ready to recommence its activities when the health crisis ends.
NDIS Minister, Stuart Robert announced on 21 March new measures to support providers and participants through COVID-19. The announcement noted that there will be more changes to come. The information we have so far is:
The Government has released a suite of NDIS provider supports in response to COVID-19 to ease cash flow issues, help retain workers and aid continuity of care. Work is also being done to find additional Disability Support Workers including upskilling displaced workers from other industries and matching existing and new workers to areas where there is a demand for services.
You can read the media release here: https://ministers.dss.gov.au/media-releases/5661