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The government is extending its JobKeeper programme until March, but on a reduced payment level, which will reduce again next year on two-tier rate for full-time and part-time staff.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the stimulus aimed to cushion the blow to businesses from the pandemic.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the stimulus aimed to cushion the blow to businesses from the pandemic.

To qualify for JobKeeper, packaging businesses will have to continue to show that sales are at least 30 per cent lower than the corresponding period last year.

JobKeeper 2.0 sees a tapered two-tier system in place of the flat rate in the original version. From October companies are allowed to claim $1200 per fortnight for full time staff and $750 for part time – those working less than 20 hours. Those rates will then come down again in the first quarter of 2021 to $1000 for full-time staff and $650 for part time.

Announcing the scheme prime minister Scott Morrison said the two-tier system and the tapered payments, together with changes to JobSeeker were designed to ensure a smooth transition to a return to a growing economy.

The continuation of the scheme has been broadly welcomed by industry, which feared certain sectors would struggle if the scheme ended in September as originally planned.

The Print and Visual Communication Association lobbied strongly for the retention of JobKeeper, both directly to ministers and policy makers, and through its membership of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. PVCA CEO Andrew Macaulay said, "We have spent many hours in discussions overt the last few weeks with government. The extension was expected, and is welcomed."

However, companies have been warned that simply keeping staff on the books with little hope of future employment will be more costly than releasing them now, as entitlements such as holiday pay, long service leave, and redundancy pay continue to accrue.

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