Australia extends wage subsidy support till 2021
Australia will be extending its wage subsidies for businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which will cost a further A$16.8 billion.
The unemployment rate in Australia shot to a record 22-year high of 7.4% in June despite a surge in employment after the reopening of its economy.
And with the country facing a second wave of infections and its first recession in three decades, the government has announced a six-month extension of its A$70 billion program which was slated to end on September 30.
However, subsidies will be reduced under the new program, which runs through to March 28 next year, and is expected to cover about 1 million workers.
“It has to scale down and work ourselves off these supports because they’re not enduring, they cannot be permanent, they were never designed to be permanent,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters on July 21.
The wage subsidy program which was launched in March and has helped 3.5 million Australians so far, originally paid A$1,500 to workers from affected businesses fortnightly. The scheme covered all workers, including those who only worked casual shifts.
However, under scaled-back subsidies, workers will receive A$1,200 a fortnight, while those who work less than 20 hours a week will receive A$700 every two weeks. And from January 1 next year, payments will fall to A$1,000 and A$650 a fortnight, respectively.