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Australian Government announces ‘JobKeeper’ wage subsidy for employers

Federal Government ‘JobKeeper’ subsidy intended to support business through Coronavirus pandemic

The Australian Commonwealth government has announced a JobKeeper wage subsidy to assist employers to continue to employ staff during the Coronavirus pandemic. The subsidy of $1500 per fortnight will apply to Australian citizens, permanent residents and both protected and non-protected Special Category Subclass 444 visa holders (i.e., New Zealand citizens) in Australia. No arrangements have been made for other temporary visa holders.

The announcement means that most temporary visa holders in Australia will not be eligible for a wage subsidy. Temporary visa holder will be disproportionately impacted by stand-downs, business closures, and similar stoppages, given the absence of social and financial supports. For the time being, Hammond Taylor recommends employers and temporary visa holders discuss potential arrangements to mitigate the impact of business stoppages.

The lack of arrangements for temporary visa holders comes despite earlier statements made by the government that arrangements were being considered for temporary visa holders which were published in the Australian media.

Impact on Employer Sponsored visa holders

Employer Sponsored visa holders will face the most significant issues with business changes due to their visa conditions. For 482 and 457 visa holders, it may be permissible to take unpaid leave for a period of up to 60 days (90 days applies for visas granted prior to 19 November 2016). We strongly encourage employers to contact us in regard to managing stand-downs and unpaid leave arrangements for sponsored visa holders to ensure any arrangements meet legal obligations.

Unemployment benefits, known as the JobSeeker payment, are not available for Temporary Residents except protected New Zealand Special Category Subclass 444 visa holders. In some instances New Zealand citizens who hold 444 visas and have been resident for 10 years may qualify for one off payments. See here for more information.

Further information

Hammond Taylor continues to make representations to the Federal Government on the need for the subsidy to apply to all temporary visa holders. In addition, we have recommended the expansion of Medicare to all visa holders in Australia.