It was supposed to be a lifeline to keep Aussies afloat during the coronavirus crisis – but apparently, some have been rorting the system.
It was supposed to be a lifeline to keep Aussies afloat during the coronavirus crisis – but apparently, some have been rorting the system.

ATO’s JobKeeper warning for dodgy bosses

The Australian Taxation Office has put JobKeeper rorters on notice, warning that rule breakers can expect to face the consequences.

The $1500 a fortnight wage subsidy was introduced by the government to help the nation through the coronavirus crisis, and so far millions of workers have benefited from the scheme.

However, a recent news.com.au article about a Gold Coast cafe owner's questionable JobKeeper tactic sparked an outpouring of similar complaints and questions from readers.

In response, news.com.au contacted the ATO to bust some of the most common JobKeeper myths and misconceptions.

A spokeswoman told news.com.au the ATO would "work with employers to avoid and overcome genuine mistakes", and said the JobKeeper Tip-off line had already received many calls about a range of JobKeeper related topics.

JOBKEEPER MISTAKES

The spokeswoman confirmed employers who were eligible for JobKeeper must pay all eligible workers at least the minimum $1500 a fortnight - even if they usually earnt less than that sum in a normal fortnight.

"An employer cannot pay an eligible employee less than $1500 per fortnight and keep the difference," the spokeswoman confirmed.

"Employers are not eligible for payments if they don't pay the full JobKeeper amount to employees.

"The JobKeeper payment reimburses the employer for the JobKeeper amounts paid and employees are not required to repay any JobKeeper payments to their employer."

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Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the coronavirus pandemic has hit the Australian economy harder than any previous event in the past hundred years. Picture: Sam Mooy/Getty Images
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the coronavirus pandemic has hit the Australian economy harder than any previous event in the past hundred years. Picture: Sam Mooy/Getty Images

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The spokeswoman also explained an employer was only required to pay Superannuation Guarantee (SG) on the amounts paid for work performed by the employee or any paid leave that the employee takes in the period.

"In some cases, the $1500 the employer pays will be more than the amount an employer is required to pay its employee solely in relation to the performance of their work and any paid leave they take for that fortnight," she said.

"Where an employer pays a top-up amount to meet the JobKeeper wage condition of $1500 per fortnight, for SG purposes the employer does not need to make any super contributions in respect of that additional amount in order to avoid a super guarantee charge (SGC) liability - though the employer can choose to do so. However, employers may have other super obligations under an industrial agreement, award or contract.

"If an eligible employee receives a salary in excess of $1500 (before tax) per fortnight for the performance of ordinary hours of work, the employer is required to continue to make SG contributions in order to avoid an SGC liability."

The spokeswoman also had a dire warning for those doing the wrong thing.

"We are committed to tackling any illegal JobKeeper activity and behaviour of concern to protect honest businesses and the community," the spokeswoman said.

She urged concerned employees to report their boss's worrying activity to the ATO via the confidential tip-off hotline on 1800 060 062 by completing an online tip-off form.

By August 6, the ATO had received 7300 tip-offs in relation to more than 5500 separate cases.

Some of the most common tip-offs relate to disagreements about employee eligibility, issues related to termination, redundancy and stand downs and allegations that employers are claiming for ineligible employees.

Other complaints related to increasing or decreasing employee hours of work or location, allegations that employees were being forced to take annual leave, alleged payment issues and claims that businesses that did not meet the eligibility criteria were claiming JobKeeper.

There is a dedicated team at the ATO examining all tip-offs, including claims relating to JobKeeper.

"We take all information referred to us seriously and protect the complainant's identity in accordance with the law requiring whistleblower protection," the spokeswoman said.

"When we receive information through a tip-off, we will crosscheck the information and assess whether further action is required which may include penalties.

"We are working closely with the Fair Work Ombudsman and will refer tip-offs to them, as permitted under the law."

Originally published as ATO's JobKeeper warning for dodgy bosses


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