JobKeeper Program in Australia Ends

The coming weeks in Australia could bring on the biggest economic shock since the pandemic itself, with the end of the $90 billion JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme, ABC.net.au reported. Business owners, bureaucrats and insolvency experts are cautiously awaiting the fallout. Insolvency laws were essentially placed on hold during the pandemic, due to the rolling uncertainty and how difficult it was to predict future business. As a result, the number of companies winding up halved in 2020, despite Australia being in its first recession in three decades. Those "safe harbour" provisions have ceased, and the end of JobKeeper will now force many marginal businesses to close for good. "There will be a whole raft of workers that don't have jobs to go back to, because their employer has ceased to trade, their retail shop is no longer trading, the cafe has never been re-opened," said Adrian Hunter, partner at insolvency and turnaround firm Brooke Bird. JobKeeper helped keep the Australian economy afloat, as whole industries were forced to close to stop the spread of coronavirus. JobKeeper initially gave businesses $1,500 per fortnight per employee to help pay the wages. It aimed to keep a connection between workers and employers, allowing a faster recovery when the health crisis was under control. It also kept the unemployment rate from spiking, with workers considered 'employed' even though they were being paid by taxpayer funds, in many cases to work zero hours. At one point, almost a third of Australian workers were on JobKeeper – 3.6 million employees, out of a work force of around 13 million. The number of workers requiring it has fallen as the economy has recovered: to 1.6 million in October, 1.5 million in December and 1.1 million in recent months. Read more.
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