Jobkeeper wage subsidy leaves 26,000 Canberra workers without support

Analysis by the ACTU and UnionsACT shows that 17,300 casual workers and 8,600 migrant workers (excluding New Zealand citizens) will not be eligible for the Federal Government wages subsidy (Jobkeeper).

The Commonwealth’s Jobkeeper wage subsidy provides $750 per week to employers as a subsidy for wages paid to workers.

However, the subsidy scheme excludes casual workers not continuously employed for more than 12 months, and also most migrant workers (New Zealand citizens are included in the Jobkeeper coverage).

The ACT has approximately 48,000 casual workers (this does not include informal, cash-in-hand, contractors, labour hire or temps).

UnionsACT’s research shows that the bulk of job losses, stand-downs and reduction of shifts for workers are concentrated in the Hospitality, Retail and Education/Training sectors.

Overall, with a survey of almost 1000 workers (conducted 25 March-2 April), 18% of surveyed workers had lost their job and 19% had lost income or work shifts.

The average weekly lost income due to the coronavirus crisis $884 per week. The Jobkeeper wage subsidy is just $750 per week.

The following quotes are attributable to Alex White, Secretary of UnionsACT:

“Casual and migrant workers have been forgotten by the Federal Government.

“There are 26,000 workers in the ACT whose jobs and income should be protected by the wages subsidy but aren’t.

“Migrant workers in particular do not qualify for social security, so face potential destitution and homelessness if they lose their job due to coronavirus.

“What’s more, thousands of casuals in the hardest hit industries – hospitality and retail – are not eligible for a wages subsidy, either because they don’t have 12 months continuous employment, or because their employer broke the law by paying them ‘off the books’.”

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