Employers will not be allowed to cherry-pick employees to put forward for the JobKeeper payment scheme, the ATO has now confirmed.

 

The ATO has now updated its guidance on the JobKeeper payment scheme, giving effect to a key feature that required all eligible employees to be nominated for the $1,500 per fortnight payment.

“If you decide to participate in the JobKeeper payment scheme, you must nominate all your eligible employees,” the ATO said.

“You cannot choose to nominate only some employees. However, individual eligible employees can choose not to participate.”

The update follows from Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s JobKeeper rules explanatory statement which highlighted the key feature of the scheme.

“The employer cannot select which eligible employees will participate in the scheme. This ‘one in, all in’ rule is a key feature of the scheme,” the explanatory statement said.

TaxBanter senior tax trainer Robyn Jacobson, who sought the explicit clarification of the “one in, all in” feature from the ATO, said the updated guidance would be welcomed by the profession but warned of the implications for clients in business.

“There will be implications as participating employers will not have a choice as to which employees they select to go into the scheme. They will be required to pay a minimum of $1,500 a fortnight upfront, and then they’ll be reimbursed by the ATO the following month,” Ms Jacobson told Accountants Daily.

“This will have serious cash-flow implications and employers should carefully consider whether the JobKeeper scheme is the right choice for them.

“They may have a large, long-term casual workforce and they may earn less than $1,500 dollars a fortnight, and to go into JobKeeper, they would need to top up those workers to $1,500 a fortnight and they would have to fund it in the meantime until they are reimbursed by the ATO.”

With employers unable to qualify for JobKeeper if they pay their eligible employees less than the minimum $1,500 per fortnight, Ms Jacobson said employers could also find themselves liable for civil penalties under the Fair Work Act if they failed to meet the wage condition.

Section 789GD of the Fair Work Act notes that employers must ensure that the wage condition has been satisfied in respect of the employee by the end of the fortnight or face civil penalty amounting to 60 penalty units or 600 penalty units for serious contraventions, equating to $12,600 and $126,000, respectively, under the current $210 penalty unit value.

 

 

Source: Written by Jotham Lian, 21st Aptil 2020, Accountants Daily

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