Relief as JobKeeper set to run to March

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The government is extending its JobKeeper programme – widely acknowledged as saving thousands of jobs in print – until next March, but on a reduced, and two-tier rate.

Stimulus package: Scott Morrison
Stimulus package: Scott Morrison

To qualify for JobKeeper, printers will have to continue to show that sales are at least 30 per cent lower than the corresponding period last year, with the vast majority of commercial printers in that category, although many label and packaging printers may not qualify.

JobKeeper 2.0 sees a tapered, two-tier systems in place of the flat rate in the original version, with companies allowed to claim $1200 a 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.

The continuation of the scheme has been broadly welcomed by industry, which feared carnage if the scheme ended in September as originally planned. Large sectors of print have struggled to get work on the presses in what is a significant economic downturn, with some big print markets such as exhibitions, events and conferences barely functioning.

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. Andrew Macaulay, CEO at PVCA said, "We have spent many hours in discussions over the past few weeks with government. The extension was expected, we welcome it. The extension of JobKeeper is a lifeline to SMEs."

However, printers 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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