The secret sauce in the government’s A$130 billion JobKeeper payment is that it will be retrospective, in the best possible way.
It’ll not only go to employers who have suffered losses and had employees on their books tonight, March 30, but to employers who have suffered losses and had workers on their books as far back as March 1.
This means that employers who have sacked (“let go”) of workers at any time in the past month can travel back in time, pay them as if they hadn’t been sacked, and nab the A$1,500 per employee per fortnight payment.
As the official fact sheet puts it, “the JobKeeper Payment will support employers to maintain their connection to their employees”.
This retrospective connection will add new meaning to the term “revision” when the March unemployment numbers are released.
Not only will the March numbers be liable to being revised a month later as is normal in the light of extra information, but many Australians who were unemployed in March will retrospectively turn out not to have been unemployed.
They will have been retrospectively in paid work.
(And if they have applied for the Centrelink payment of Newstart plus $550 per fortnight, they’ll have to un-apply to avoid what the prime minister referred to as “double counting” rather than the more loaded “double dipping”.)
It gets better. If you have been part-time, or for some other reason on less than $1,500 per fortnight, “your employer must pay you, at a minimum, $1,500 per fortnight, before tax”.
This means you’ll get a pay rise, for the six months the scheme lasts.
Authors: Peter Martin, Visiting Fellow, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University