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JobKeeper payments and wages declaration

Will JobKeeper payments be considered declarable wages under the Workers' Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (the 'Act')?

WorkCover is ensuring all Queensland employers are treated fairly and equally by not considering additional amounts paid to employees as a result of the JobKeeper Payment Scheme for the purposes of calculating premium. This applies where workers are stood down without pay, or payments to workers are being topped up so that the employer can access JobKeeper payments.

WorkCover considers that when an employer pays these additional amounts to workers, the payments are a top-up or subsidy payment and not a payment for work done. The additional amounts are paid to the worker so that the employer meets a condition that allows the employer to access payments under the JobKeeper Payment Scheme. Payments made for this purpose are not declarable wages.

Where employers are continuing to engage workers, they should still declare wages paid in exchange for labour, services or personal exertion. This is even where these amounts are then subsidised by JobKeeper payments that the employer receives.

Where eligible employers are paying additional amounts to workers because the worker’s wages are otherwise less than the JobKeeper ‘wage condition’ of $1,500 per fortnight, then only the wages for work done must be declared. Any top up amount as part of JobKeeper payments, does not need to be declared.

Employers should exclude any amounts paid to workers who are stood down without pay (other than the $1,500 per fortnight) as this is not a payment for work done.

The table and examples below outline how payments made to workers by employers, including the JobKeeper payment, are to be applied:

Category

Example

Employer obligation to access JobKeeper Payment Scheme

Consequence

Employee stood down without pay

Employee does not receive pay

Employer pays employee $1,500 per fortnight (top-up payment)

The $1,500 top-up payment will not be ‘wages’ under the Act.

Employee currently earning a wage of more than $1,500 per fortnight

Employee earns $2,500 per fortnight

Employer pays employee current wage of $2,500

The employer receives the JobKeeper subsidy of $1,500

$2,500 is ‘wages’ under the Act and will be required to be included in wages declaration for 2019–2020.

Employee currently earning exactly $1,500 per fortnight

Employee earns $1,500 per fortnight

Employer pays employee current wage of $1,500

The employer receives the JobKeeper subsidy of $1,500

$1,500 is ‘wages’ under the Act and will be required to be included in wages declaration for 2019–2020.

Employee currently earning a wage of less than $1,500 per fortnight

Employee earns $500 per fortnight

Employer pays employee $1,500 per fortnight INCLUDING:

  1. current wage of $500 per fortnight
  2. $1,000 necessary to top-up the employee to $1,500 per fortnight (top-up payment)

$500 is ‘wages’ under the Act and will be required to be included in wages declaration for 2019–2020.

The $1,000 top-up payment will not be ‘wages’ under the Act.

Examples

  1. Worker normally gets paid $2,000 per fortnight. The employer receives $1,500 per fortnight from the government under the JobKeeper Payment Scheme. Does the employer declare the entire $2,000 total or only $500?
    • The employer should declare the entire $2,000 as wages. The subsidy of $1,500 that the employer later receives from the government does not change the fact that the employer paid the worker their normal wage for work done.
  2. Business is closed. The worker normally receives $2,000 per fortnight but is stood down without pay. The employer pays the worker $1,500 per fortnight so that the employer becomes entitled to the $1,500 per fortnight payment from the government. The employer isn’t paying anything themselves. The worker is not doing any work for this money but receives the $1,500. Does the $1,500 get included in the wages?
    • The employer is not required to declare the $1,500 as wages. This is because the $1,500 is not remuneration for work done by the worker. It is an amount paid because the worker is an eligible employee and the employer must pay the $1,500 to become entitles to a JobKeeper payment.
  3. An employer has one worker John, who is paid $2,000 per week (inclusive of super). Therefore, under normal circumstances, the annual wages declared is $52,000. The director, in July last year, gave his provisional wages of $52,000, and subsequently paid the premium in full (being $3,500). Due to COVID-19, the employer has had to stand down John without pay from 1 April through to 30 June. As a result, the employer has asked WorkCover to reassess wages to 75% of the full year being $39,000, as John is not working for the business for the final quarter of the year. The director applies for the JobKeeper payment. To receive JobKeeper payments, the employer pays John $1,500 per fortnight between now and 30 June. This is approved, despite John not working.
    • The director wants to know whether they should reassess wages to include that $1,500 per fortnight that will be paid to John over the next three months.
      • The director is not required to reassess wages again to include the $1,500 fortnightly payment in his declared wages for the three-month period ending 30 June. As John has been stood down without pay for that period, none of the $1,500 paid to John that is attributable to the JobKeeper payment is ‘wages’ as it is not remuneration for work done. The director will not be paying John ‘wages’ for the purposes of the Act for that three-month period.
      • If John was actually working (not stood down) the director would be required to declare the wages from the time they continued to pay John at $2,000 per fortnight.

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Last updated
30 April 2020

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