1.1m Aussies screwed out of $1500 payment

 

Australian casual workers have had their hopes dashed after it was confirmed those who had been in a job for less than 12 months would not receive the JobKeeper payment.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison first announced the new $130 billion wage subsidy late last month. It was designed to help keep businesses afloat and workers in jobs as the coronavirus crisis rages on.

Under the payment system, eligible employees would be paid $1500 a fortnight for a maximum of six months.

 

But while the Government initially revealed full-time and part-time employees, sole traders and casual workers who had been working for more than one year would be eligible, concerns were raised that several groups would miss out.

Backlash was especially centred on the fine print that excluded the 1.1 million Australian casual workers who had been in their role for less than 12 months, with union leaders calling on the Government to relax the rules.

According to Fairfax publications, Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter had indicated he was open to working with the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) to change the eligibility for casual workers.

The ACTU had been pushing for all casuals to get the payments if they had a reasonable expectation of ongoing work, were it not for the virus.

Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter had indicated he was open to relax the eligibility for casuals. Picture: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas
Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter had indicated he was open to relax the eligibility for casuals. Picture: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

 

But this morning that hope was crushed after Mr Porter told ABC Radio the original rules would remain in place, meaning a casual worker would be defined as a worker who had been attached to the same employer for at least one year.

"You have to have some kind of guiding limits on the outer edges even of a scheme that represents expenditure of this extraordinary amount," Mr Porter said on air.

"We will require regular and systemic attachment to an employer for 12 months."

He said the Government would stick to that "standard definition" of a casual worker under the Fair Work Act.

He also doubled down on the exclusion in an interview with Sky News this morning.

"The principle about what counts as a casual employee for the purposes of this scheme is a principle we have lifted from the Fair Work Act," Mr Porter said.

"It is a sensible principle and that's the one we will be sticking with."

The backtrack has sparked widespread anger on social media, with many Twitter users calling on the Government to ensure no worker is left behind.

 

Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations, Tony Burke, will address the exclusion at midday today.

 

CHARITY WORKERS

However, there has been a win for charity workers when it comes to accessing the scheme.

When the JobKeeper initiative was first unveiled, it was restricted to employers - including not-for profits - with an annual revenue of less than $1 billion that had experienced at least a 30 per cent drop in revenue because of the virus.

Those with a turnover of more than a billion would need to experience a 50 per cent fall in revenue to be eligible.

But late last night, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg confirmed that threshold had been drastically reduced to include not-for-profit charities registered with the Australian Charities and Not-For-Profit Commission (ACNC) that had experienced a 15 per cent fall in revenue.

"Legislation to be introduced into the parliament this week will include a concessional test for ACNC (Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission) registered charities given the benefit they provide to the Australian community," Mr Frydenberg said in a statement.

"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."

He also announced the changes on social media.

There are more than 57,000 charities employing more than 1.3 million Australians registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission.

According to the Treasury, the $1500 JobKeeper subsidy is the equivalent of around 70 per cent of the national median wage.

It will be voted on in parliament on Wednesday.

More to come

Originally published as 1.1m Aussies screwed out of $1500 payment



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