JobMaker fails to boost employment

The Government’s JobMaker scheme has created 609 new jobs since registrations opened on 1 February 2021, despite around 15,000 businesses registering their interest in the scheme.

The hiring credit is available for jobs created from 7 October 2020 until 6 October 2021 and provides $200 per week for new employees between 16 to 29 years of age, and $100 a week for new employees between 30 to 35 years of age. Payment is from the start date of the employee for 12 months. To date, around 70% of employers taking advantage of the credit are micro-employers with another 20% from the SME sector.

Unlike JobKeeper, the employer keeps the JobMaker payment and does not pass it onto their employee.

One of the reasons for the low take up rate, beyond a general lack of awareness in the business community, is likely to be the complexity of the scheme versus the reward. There are a number of tests and compliance requirements at both the employer and employee level including an ‘additionality test’ that requires the total headcount of the business to remain above a baseline number of employees.  That is, if you employ an eligible employee and an existing employee resigns, the benefit cancels out because there is no longer an increase in total headcount.

In addition, JobMaker only applies where an employer takes an employee from the unemployment queue. That is, the employee had to be receiving the JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance or Parenting Payment for at least one month within the three months before they were hired.

It is possible that more businesses will start to take advantage of the scheme now that the JobKeeper scheme has finished. Businesses that were still eligible for JobKeeper could not generally access JobMaker at the same time.

The Treasurer has stated that the Government will review the design of the JobMaker program in the upcoming Federal Budget with only $800,000 of the $4 billion scheme’s budget distributed.

Unemployment rate at pre COVID-19 levels

Australia’s unemployment rate decreased to 5.8% in February 2021 (0.6% higher than 12 months ago) with just under 70,000 jobs created in the month. Employment in March 2021 was 4,000 jobs higher than March 2020.

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