The surprise group claiming $1500 JobKeeper allowance
The surprising face of the Australians who plan to claim the $1500 JobKeeper allowance has been revealed and it's not who you might expect.
According to the first snapshot of the employers applying for the wage subsidy, the biggest single industry group turns out to be white-collar workers and professionals including lawyers, barristers, accountants, and management consultants.
The shock finding is contained in an Australian Australian Taxation Office analysis of more than 800,000 sole traders and companies that have expressed interest in the $130 billion cash handout.
There is no means test for the cash handout which is designed to help businesses hit hard by restrictions to get to the other side of the crisis.
Any company or sole trader that can demonstrate a 30 per cent downturn can claim the same $1500 a fortnight cash payment as a taxi driver.
Workers who have not been stood down are eligible as long as employers can prove that turnover has taken a hit.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg urged all eligible companies and sole traders to apply.
"It was heartbreaking to see those queues outside Centrelink. And this is a health crisis, the likes of which the world has never seen,'' he said.
"All I'm focused about is keeping people in a job so that they get to the other side and they can preserve their lives and their livelihoods."
The new figures confirm more than 120,000 lawyers, barristers, accountants, and management consultants are leading the stampede to keep their staff in a job with the $1500 JobKeeper payment.
But sole traders can claim too which means a barrister who has taken a hit in revenue can also secure the payment for himself or herself.
'Micro' companies with a turnover of less than $2 million are the largest group claiming the cash.
The ranks of professionals applying also include management architects, scientists, and even vets.
The construction industry is the second largest group with more than 100,000 likely applicants. The number of individual workers would be much higher because the employers have not provided a breakdown of how many staff will claim the cash. It's expected up to 6 million people could claim benefits.
By comparison, retail workers who have been stood down during the COVID-19 pandemic comprise just 60,000 applicants.
But that's based on employers who have told the ATO they plan to apply. It does not give a final picture of the actual numbers of workers who will be eligible. So a single retailer may have thousands of staff who will be eligible.
While casuals who have not worked for more than 12 months for a single employer are ineligible for the cash, the new figures suggest some wealthier Australians are making the most of the handout.
Even James Packers' Crown Casinos are claiming the JobKeeper allowance for hundreds of staff despite recently announcing it will payout $73 million in dividends to the billionaire.
The ATO data also reveals that NSW and Victoria will secure the lion's share of JobKeeper cash. Currently, 35 per cent of applicants are from NSW and 27 per cent from Victoria.
Around 20 per cent are from Queensland companies and sole traders. By comparison, just 6 per cent of applicants are from SA and a tiny 2 per cent from Tasmania.
ACTU President Sally McManus said the data was a wake-up call.
"This data shows what so many workers already know. Many businesses are not doing their part by signing up for JobKeeper. This means their employees will miss out on $200 a week,'' she said.
"The Morrison Government needs to make transparent those good employers who receive JobKeeper. This will assist in stopping rorts and positively encourage businesses who do the right thing by their workers.
"If your employer is eligible but refuses to sign up to JobKeeper, contact your union."
Hairdressers, beauticians, funeral parlours, dry cleaners, laundromats, pet groomers and tattooists have also applied for the payment.
But there are already fears the ATO could be flooded with requests for alternative tests or tax commissioner discretion.
Labor's treasury spokesman Jim Chalmers said many companies remained confused about eligibility.
"This is an anxious time for many small- and medium-sized employers and their workers,'' he said.
"The Morrison Government needs to do more to guide and support struggling businesses through the JobKeeper application process to ensure that this welcome support makes its way into workers' pockets sooner."
Formal applications for the federal government's $130 billion JobKeeper wage subsidy package open on Monday, April 20.
Do you have tip on JobKeeper? Has your employer refused to apply or are you a company that is worried you're not eligible? If so contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Originally published as Surprise group claiming $1500 JobKeeper