Sole traders and small businesses could have found a loophole to JobKeeper 2.0, allowing them to claim $1,200 per fortnight while only working part-time.
From September 28, the coronavirus supplement will drop from $1,500 a fortnight to a more targeted payment based on hours worked.
Employees working 20 hours a week or more will be entitled to the full $1,200 payment, while people working less will receive $750.
Sole traders will need to demonstrate that they have ‘been actively engaged in the business’ more than 20 hours each week.
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People are seen in a long queue outside a Centrelink office in Brisbane prior to the introduction of JobKeeper when the pandemic forced people out of work
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg (pictured) helped to create the JobKeeper payment. Sole traders and small businesses could have found a loophole to JobKeeper 2.0, allowing them to claim $1,200 per fortnight while only working part-time
But Michael Croker, the tax lead at Chartered Accountants, told ABC it could very easily become ‘a very loose test’.
‘Now, you could be washing the dishes at night and thinking about your business at the same time,’ he revealed.
While the loophole leaves room for exploitation, the CEO of the Council of Small Business, Peter Strong, said business owners often work constantly.
‘Lots of small business people go on holidays and still work more than 20 hours per week, just by the nature of what they’re in,’ he said.
Newcastle based hair salon owner Sandy Chong agreed that she feels she is constantly working.
Shops on Sydney Road in Brunswick display signs informing customers of their closure on August 5 amid the pandemic and second outbreak in Victoria
‘If you own a business, you work 24/7,’ she said. ‘There is no small business owner who leaves their business at the door when they close the door.’
‘And so I can understand that you would be washing up and you would be thinking about what it is that you need to do, how can I be resourceful at this time, and what is it that I need to do to make my business survive.’
She insisted that thinking about business while washing up should ‘definitely’ be considered working under the new guidelines.
All businesses and not-for-profits seeking the JobKeeper payment will be required to demonstrate their business has been substantially impacted by the pandemic.
Eligibility will be re-assessed based on turnover in the September quarter of 2020.
JobKeeper has kept businesses open throughout the pandemic by paying staff wages. Pictured: People eat breakfast at Albert and Moore Cafe in Freshwater
When the payment reduces again in January, a new assessment will be performed, and will need to prove they still meet the requirements for the December quarter.
Meanwhile, employees will be entitled for the full time or part time supplement based on their hours worked.
The reference periods for consideration will be the two fortnightly pay periods prior to March 1, or July 1.
The period with the highest number of hours worked will be considered.
That means if an employee was working above 20 hours prior to the pandemic, they will be entitled to the higher payment.
Similarly, if an employee has been working increased hours up until July, they will also be entitled to the higher payment rate.