The JobKeeper Payment scheme is a wage subsidy open to self-employed individuals and sole traders as well as other businesses. Payments will flow from May 2020. To qualify for the JobKeeper Payment you must be able to show a 30% reduction in turnover compared with a typical period in 2019. You must also have held an ABN on or before 12 March 2020, be at least 16 years of age and an Australian citizen, the holder of a permanent visa, or a Special Category (Subclass 444) visa holder and a resident for Australian tax purposes on 1 March 2020. Note that the ATO has confirmed that sole traders do not need to be registered for GST, or have a GST income stream to be eligible.
The Tax Commissioner may have discretion to set out alternative tests that would establish eligibility in specific circumstances (for example, eligibility may be established as soon as a business ceases or significantly curtails its operations). There will be some tolerance where employers, in good faith, estimate a 30 per cent or more or 50 per cent or more fall in turnover but actually experience a slightly smaller fall.
Please visit the ATO website for the latest information on how the scheme will work and how to apply. As of 20 April 2020, information specifically for sole traders and other entities is now available. The ATO recommends you seek help from your registered tax or BAS agent. However if you find it difficult to interact with the online information and you don’t use a registered tax or BAS agent, you can call the ATO for assistance. Find the relevant ATO helpline number here.
Note that FDCA is aware that some educators do not have ABNs and we are working closely with the Department on this matter.
The new base relief payments being made under the ECEC Relief Package are being paid as a lump sum weekly to services from 6 April. So in the first instance, contact your service co-ordination office. These payments are designed to assist services to stay open during the COVID-19 emergency. However it is currently up to the service as to how they distribute these funds to their educators.
FDCA recently commissioned Deloitte Australia to develop independent Practice Guidance for the distribution of funds under the ECEC Relief Package. This Practice Guidance has been distributed to members.
In the first instance please contact your service co-ordination office to discuss with them the options available to you.
The Government’s Relief Package is aimed at providing some measure of financial certainty to the majority of ECEC services and educators in this crisis, that were suffering severely reduced enrolments, so that services stay open and families, especially emergency and essential workers, can work during the COVID-19 Pandemic crisis, and disadvantaged and vulnerable children are safe and receiving care. Note that the ECEC Relief Package measure is designed to act in conjunction with the JobKeeper Payment scheme. The ATO is administering the Jobkeeper scheme, so for further information about how that scheme works, please go to www.ato.gov.au/General/JobKeeper-Payment/.
Nevertheless the Government has acknowledged that there are aspects of the ECEC Relief Package that do not align neatly with the unique aspects of the family day care sector. FDCA continues to vigorously advocate solutions to these and is in regular discussion with the Department of Education, Skills and Employment.
FDCA has raised with the Department the issue of a higher rate of relief payment for those who have not suffered reduced enrolments; who have seen an increase in enrolments to meet the needs of essential workers or vulnerable children, or who are ineligible for support under the Jobkeeper scheme. In recognition of this fact, the Department has developed a new online “Supplementary Payment Form” for use by services in these situations. Talk to your service if you believe your circumstances may warrant an application for a higher rate of relief payment.
Finally, if the payments provided under the ECEC Relief Package do not provide adequate funding levels for educators to maintain high occupancy rates, the Government has advised that “you are able, at your discretion, to reduce hours and/or prioritising care to vulnerable children and children of essential workers.”
The ECEC Relief Package has been primarily developed to assist and respond to concerns from the vast majority of the child care sector that falling child care enrolments were threatening the viability of the sector, including the family day care sector.
In recognition that not all ECEC services have suffered severely decreasing enrolments and attendance, especially in the family day care sector, the Department has made a commitment to make payments at a higher rate available in some circumstances, such as where greater funding is required due to an increase in enrolments to meet the needs of essential workers or vulnerable children; or where a provider or a service were not in operation during the reference fortnight.
The Government has developed a new online “Supplementary Payment Form” for currently for use by services in these situations. Talk to your service if you believe your circumstances may warrant an application for a higher rate of relief payment under the ECEC Relief Package.
In short, the answer is no. Services and educators are not compelled to accept new enrolments from families as a result of the new package. On this matter the Government has advised that under the new ECEC Relief Package “services must prioritise care to children of essential workers, vulnerable and disadvantaged children, and children who were previously enrolled. There is no obligation for services to take on new families, increase hours of care or re-enrol those that have withdrawn if services do not have enough staffing to provide care or cannot meet health and safety obligations. Prioritising of new children (if capacity exists) is a business decision.”
If services or educators are not eligible for the JobKeeper Payment, they can apply to receive a higher rate of base relief payment under the ECEC Relief Package. ,
Applications will be required to address some key criteria such as where the number of enrolments during the reference period were significantly lower, or services / educators were ineligible for the JobKeeper scheme. The Department has developed an online “Supplementary Payment Form” for use in these situations.
In the first instance, we advise that you talk to your coordination unit to discuss your circumstances and whether they may warrant an application for a supplementary relief payment.
This is a matter for discussion with your service. Payments to your service under the ECEC Relief Package should not be impacted if a single educator decides to not accept any enrolments. FDCA recently commissioned Deloitte Australia to develop independent Practice Guidance for the distribution of funds under the ECEC Relief Package. This Practice Guidance has been distributed to members.
If you wish to simply minimise your risk to exposure to COVID-19, you are able to, at your discretion, reduce hours and/or prioritise care to vulnerable children and children of essential workers. Again, talk to your service in the first instance to ensure they are aware of your particular circumstances.
Whether a child is ill or not, including where a child does not attend care as part of the family’s own precautionary measure against potential contact with COVID-19, Child Care Subsidy (CCS) can be paid for up to 62 absence days per child, for the 2019–20 financial year, without the need for families to provide documentation.
Once a child’s 62 initial absences have been used, if more absences are required for COVID-19 related reasons, CCS can be paid for additional absences claimed without the need for medical evidence.
Absences will not be counted during the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package period (commencing 6 April 2020) as session reports will not be submitted. However educators and services are still required to record attendance.
If a child is absent on their last day of enrolment in the period between 23 March 2020 and 28 June 2020 the child care subsidy amount which has been paid to the service will not be recovered from the service or the family.