Hunter Lockdown: Financial Relief for Employees

When the JobKeeper payment ended in March, there was a void in financial relief for people affected by the loss of income resulting from the COVID-19 lockdowns.


That has since been rectified through two new types of payments/subsidies: one for employees and one for employers. This blog will address the financial incentives offered to employees and how they can apply for them.


Employee Financial Relief: COVID-19 Disaster Relief Payment

The key financial assistance for employees who are in lockdown is the federal government’s COVID-19 Disaster Relief payment, which is exempt from taxable income (hence no need to include it in the dreaded tax return). However, unlike JobKeeper, people who receive Centrelink payments are exempt from receiving the relief payment. Instead, they will receive a supplement. See below for more information on the relief available to Centrelink recipients.


The COVID-19 disaster relief payment is split into different categories based on the number of work hours you have lost due to NSW government restrictions. It is noted that to be eligible for the payment, at a minimum, you must have lost either at least 8 hours of work a week or a full day of your usual working hours in that week (including a shift of fewer than 8 hours a day).


If due to the lockdown, you have lost either between 8 and under 20 hours a week or a full days’ worth of work (including a shift of fewer than 8 hours a day) in a week commencing from the 1st of August to the 7th of August, you will be eligible to a government payment of $375. This increases to $450 per week commencing from the week of the 8th of August. Such payments will remain on a weekly basis until the 28th of August.


Alternatively, if you have lost at least 20 hours of work in a given week commencing from the 1st of August to the 7th of August, you are eligible for a payment of $600, which increases to $750/per week starting from the 8th of August until the 28h of August.


How to register for Covid-19 Disaster Relief Payment

Now you are aware of the eligibility requirements for the COVID-19 Disaster Relief payment, the tricky bit is knowing how to access the financial support. In order to receive the COVID-19 Disaster Relief payment, you must have a MyGov account and link it to your Centrelink account via a Centrelink Reference Number (CRN).


To register for the Covid-19 Disaster Relief Payment, you must sign in to MyGov and when you see the alert on ‘Government support for Coronavirus’, you click on ‘Apply for support’. Once this is done, under ‘Affected by Coronavirus (COVID-19)’, click ‘Get Started’ and the subsequent ‘Apply for COVID-19 Disaster Payment’ where you then answer the eligibility questions and voila, the claim is submitted and awaiting processing.


However, for those of you who do not have a Centrelink account or have not received a Centrelink payment, don’t fret. All you need to do is to provide MyGov with information from the following identification documents:

  • ·Medicare Card

Either:

  • Australian Birth Certificate OR;

  • Australian Citizenship Certificate OR;

  • Australian Passport, OR;

  • Australian Visa

·Either:

  • Australian Driver’s Licence OR;

  • Australian Certificate of Registration by Descent OR;

  • ImmiCard

Also, for those of you who are not able to link Centrelink to MyGov online, you can register for Centrelink over the phone or in person. Surprisingly, these methods of registering with Centrelink allow you to submit a greater selection of documents to prove your identity.


To register for Centrelink in relation to the COVID-19 Disaster Relief Payments over the phone, you can call 180 22 66 between 8 am-5 pm on Mondays-Fridays and 9 am-4 pm on the weekend. The necessary documentation required is:

Either:

  • Australian birth certificate OR;

  • Australian visa OR;

  • Australian citizenship certificate OR;

  • Australian passport

Either:

  • Australian driver licence OR;

  • Australian marriage certificate issued by state government OR;

  • Foreign passport OR;

  • Proof of Age Card OR;

  • High School Student ID Card (only if you do not have the above)

Either not limited to the following:

  • Security licence OR;

  • Bank or financial institution card, statement or passbook OR;

  • Child’s Australian birth certificate with your name as either parent or guardian OR;

  • Australian Defence Force identity card OR;

  • Australian divorce papers OR;

  • Australian educational certificate from school, TAFE, University or a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) OR;

  • Certified Australian university academic transcript OR;

  • Australian mortgage papers OR;

  • Tenancy agreement or lease OR;

  • Motor vehicle registration OR;

  • Australian government-issued photo ID card OR;

  • Australian student ID card from High School, TAFE, university or Registered Training Organisation OR;

  • Prison release certificate

Covid-19 Disaster Relief Supplement for Centrelink Income Recipients

As noted, people on Centrelink payments are not eligible for the general COVID-19 Disaster Relief Payments. Instead, you will receive a $200 supplement every week you are affected by the lockdown. This is provided that:

  • you are not receiving:

  • the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment;

  • Dad and Partner Pay; Parental Leave Pay;

  • a state or territory pandemic payment, or;

  • a state small business payment

  • You have lost hours of work and income as a result of a lockdown (even for one day);

  • You have either:

  • reported employment income to Centrelink at least once on or after the 29th of April 2021, or;

  • have ongoing employment as of the 29th of April 2021 or later

  • You are not receiving your usual income

To make a claim as a Centrelink recipient receiving income support, like those who are not on income support, you must sign in to MyGov and when you see the alert on ‘Government support for coronavirus’, you click on ‘Apply for support’. Once this is done, under ‘Affected by coronavirus (COVID-19)’, click ‘Get Started’ and the subsequent ‘Apply for COVID-19 Disaster Payment’ where you then answer the eligibility questions and voila, the claim is submitted.


Pandemic Disaster Leave Payment

Whilst the COVID-19 Disaster Relief payment is the federal government’s ‘baby’ when it comes to employee financial assistance, there is a separate payment available for those who have to endure the gruelling two week isolation period. If eligible for this payment, you will receive a one-off $1,500 payment for every 2 weeks you are told to self-isolate, quarantine or care for someone in isolation.


To be eligible for this payment, you must:

  • Meet the NSW Health criteria of either:

  • Having Covid-19

  • Being in close contact with someone with Covid-19

  • Caring for someone under the age of 16 who has either Covid-19 OR was in close contact with someone who has Covid-19

  • Be at least 17 years old and have be an Australian resident or hold a visa giving you the right to work in Australia

  • Be unable to go to work and earn money in the 14-day period of isolation

  • Have no leave entitlements, not limited to pandemic leave, personal leave or carer's leave.

As well as meeting the NSW Health criteria regarding covid, you may be eligible if you are generally caring for someone with COVID-19.


Conversely, you will not be eligible for this payment if, in the 14 days of isolation, you receive:

  • Income from paid work

  • Income support payments, not limited to the DSP, ABSTUDY Living Allowance, Paid Parental Leave or Dad and Partner Pay

To receive the Paid Pandemic Leave, contact 180 22 66


Update: The NSW government has announced a payment worth $320 for workers and carers to isolate at their home. However, currently, this does not apply to the Hunter Region. Watch this space


Karen Ansen Consulting is not a financial adviser. You should consider seeking independent legal, financial, taxation, or other advice to check how the website information relates to your unique circumstances.


Karen Ansen Consulting is not liable for any loss caused, whether due to negligence or otherwise arising from the use of, or reliance on, the information provided directly or indirectly, by use of this website.