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JobKeeper payments and wages declaration

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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

The information on this page has been updated in line with Commonwealth Government changes to the JobKeeper Payment Scheme effective 28 September 2020.

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’ 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 JobKeeper payment 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 from 28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021 with payment rates of:

  • $1,200 per fortnight for eligible employees who work more than 20 hours per week on average; and
  • $750 per fortnight for eligible employees who work less than 20 hours per week on average.

Category

Example

Employer obligation to access JobKeeper Payment Scheme

Consequence

Employee stood down without pay

Employee does not receive pay

Employer pays employee $1,200 per fortnight (top-up payment) if the employee averages more than 20 hours under the JobKeeper eligibility rules; OR

Employer pays employee $750 per fortnight if the employee averages less than 20 hours under the JobKeeper eligibility rules.

The $1,200 or $750 top-up payments will not be ‘wages’ under the Act.

Employee currently earning a wage of more than $1,200 per fortnight (averages more than 20 hours under JobKeeper eligibility rules) or $750 per fortnight (averages less than 20 hours under JobKeeper eligibility rules)

Employee earns $2,500 per fortnight

Employer pays employee current wage of $2,500.

The employer receives the JobKeeper subsidy of $1,200 or $750 depending on the average hours worked.

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

Employee currently earning exactly $1,200 per fortnight (averages more than 20 hours under JobKeeper eligibility rules)Employee earns $1,200 per fortnightEmployer pays employee current wage of $1,200.

The employer receives the JobKeeper subsidy of $1,200.
$1,200 is ‘wages’ under the Act and will be required to be included in wages declaration for 2020–2021.
Employee currently earning exactly $750 per fortnight (averages less than 20 hours under JobKeeper eligibility rules)Employee earns $750 per fortnightEmployer pays employee current wage of $750.

The employer receives the JobKeeper subsidy of $750.
$750 is ‘wages’ under the Act and will be required to be included in wages declaration for 2020–2021.
Employee currently earning a wage of less than $1,200 per fortnight (averages more than 20 hours under JobKeeper eligibility rules)Employee earns $500 per fortnightEmployer pays employee $1,200 per fortnight INCLUDING:

current wage of $500 per fortnight

$700 necessary to top-up the employee to $1,200 per fortnight (top-up payment).

$500 is ‘wages’ under the Act and will be required to be included in wages declaration for 2020–2021.

The $700 top-up payment will not be ‘wages’ under the Act.

Employee currently earning a wage of less than $750 per fortnight (averages less than 20 hours under JobKeeper eligibility rules)Employee earns $500 per fortnightEmployer pays employee $750 per fortnight INCLUDING:

current wage of $500 per fortnight

$250 necessary to top-up the employee to $750 per fortnight (top-up payment).
$500 is ‘wages’ under the Act and will be required to be included in wages declaration for 2020–2021.

The $250 top-up payment will not be ‘wages’ under the Act.

Examples

  1. Worker normally gets paid $2,000 per fortnight. The employer receives $1,200 per fortnight from the government under the JobKeeper Payment Scheme. Does the employer declare the entire $2,000 total or only $800?
    • The employer should declare the entire $2,000 as wages. The subsidy of $1,200 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 $1,200 per fortnight so that the employer becomes entitled to the $1,200 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 $1,200. Does the $1,200 get included in the wages?
    • The employer is not required to declare the $1,200 as wages. This is because the $1,200 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 $1,200 to become entitles to a JobKeeper payment.

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