Managing the COVID-19 crisis–an update on Government policies that might affect you

The ongoing Coronavirus crisis is all over the news and while the reports from Victoria are concerning, it’s good to remember that in absolute and global terms Australia is still managing the medical crisis exceptionally well. That said, the lockdowns, border closures and general loss of consumer and business confidence have affected the economy and so the Government has stepped in with massive support measures.

The massive cost of those measures—and better data about the crisis—means the government has recently proposed some changes to the conditions of some of their main measures.

Here’s a summary.


1. JobKeeper Payment

Under the JobKeeper payment, businesses that meet certain criteria can get a subsidy from the Government to continue paying their employees. Eligible employers need to apply to the ATO for the payment on behalf of their employees.

By keeping employees ‘tied’ to their jobs, JobKeeper is designed to maintain employment. Typically getting people back into the workforce is one of the most difficult economic problems caused by recessions.

The JobKeeper program is available until 28 March 2021, with payments reducing over time from 28 September 2020 and paid at two rates. The two rates relate to whether you’re considered to be a full-time or part-time worker for this purpose, and is intended to be determined based on the hours you worked in the applicable test period. Depending on your circumstances, this test period will be either February or June 2020. Full-time workers are those who have worked 20 hours or more in the applicable test period.

From 28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021:

  • the payment rate will fall to $1,200 each fortnight for full-time employees, and 
  • $750 each fortnight for part-time employees.

From 4 January 2021 to 28 March 2021, the JobKeeper payment rate will be:

  • $1,000 each fortnight for full-time employees. 
  • The rate for part-time employees will fall to $650 each fortnight over this period.

To find out more, including whether you’re an eligible employee, visit the Federal Government’s JobKeeper payment web page treasury.gov.au/coronavirus/jobkeeper.


2. Income support for individuals

The Government has implemented some temporary measures to enable more people to access some social security benefits and concessions. This includes temporarily relaxing some of the eligibility criteria for certain payments.

The Coronavirus supplement also temporarily increases the total payments available to eligible social security recipients.

  • Payment of the Coronavirus supplement of $550 per fortnight for those already receiving a qualifying income support payment continues until 24 September 2020.
  • From 25 September 2020, the supplement will reduce to $250 per fortnight and continue to be paid until 31 December 2020.

The supplement is taxable and is paid automatically to people receiving an eligible payment or benefit. The list of qualifying income payments is available here.

If you’re receiving JobKeeper payment from your employer, this must be declared as income if you’re applying for or receiving any payments or benefits.

You can register online via MyGov at my.gov.au or by phone for social security payments and other concessions. 


3. Access to your super

Whilst your super is designed to provide for a better lifestyle in retirement (via long-term investment), the Government is allowing temporary early access to super for certain people who are in financial difficulty as a result of COVID-19’s impact on your finances. 

Eligibility rules apply to determine whether you’re able to make a withdrawal under this temporary measure.

From 1 July 2020, you can submit one request for an early release of up to $10,000 of your super—this is the second stage of the Government’s early release of super program, with an amount up to $10,000 also being available for release up to 30 June 2020.

Originally, applications for an additional lump sum in the current financial year needed to be submitted by 24 September but the Government has extended this date to 31 December 2020.

To apply for a release of your super under this temporary measure, applications need to be made online via MyGov at my.gov.au The ATO will then contact your fund to process the release.

It’s important to remember that any money you take out of super now leaves you less money invested for retirement. While it may make sense to draw on your super now if you are in financial need, a chat to a financial adviser may help you balance your current cashflow worries with your long-term lifestyle needs.

Managing the financial impact of COVID-19

Our Coronavirus support page has articles, videos and frequently asked questions.

Important information and disclaimer
This article has been prepared by NULIS Nominees (Australia) Limited ABN 80 008 515 633 AFSL 236465 (NULIS) as trustee of the MLC Super Fund ABN 70 732 426 024. The information in this article is current as at September 2020 and may be subject to change. The information in this article is general in nature and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions based on this information. You should not rely on this article to determine your personal tax obligations.  Please consult a registered tax agent for this purpose. An investment with NULIS is not a deposit with, or liability of, and is not guaranteed by NAB or other members of the NAB Group. Opinions constitute our judgement at the time of issue. In some cases information has been provided to us by third parties and while that information is believed to be accurate and reliable, its accuracy is not guaranteed in any way. Subject to terms implied by law and which cannot be excluded, neither NULIS nor any member of the NAB Group accept responsibility for any loss or liability incurred by you in respect of any error, omission or misrepresentation in the information in this communication.  Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. The value of an investment may rise or fall with the changes in the market.