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What are my entitlements if my employer is receiving the Wage Subsidy?

By Aimee Elia - 18 May 2020

The government's Wage Subsidy Scheme is intended to assist businesses retain employees during the COVID-19 crisis by helping the employer to fund those salaries and wages. The scheme has now been extended for a further eight weeks for businesses that meet the new, more stringent eligibility criteria. Businesses will be able to apply for the extended subsidy from 10 June 2020.

As with the initial Wage Subsidy Scheme, employers are obliged to pass the subsidy onto their employees and retain those employees for the duration of the subsidy. Employers must also do their best to pay employees at least 80% of their normal pay.

If your employer is receiving the subsidy but your income still dropped below 80% that does not mean your employer has breached the scheme providing it used "best endeavours" to pay you and you are receiving the full benefit of the scheme which is $585.80 for employees working at least 20 hours per week or $350 per week for people who work up to 20 hours per week.

Your employer must pay you at least minimum wage ($18.90 per hour from 1 April 2020). This means that if you are only receiving the subsidy (for full time employment), you should not be required to work more than 31 hours per week as doing so, would push your income below the minimum wage.

If your usual wages are less than the subsidy, your employer is entitled to retain the difference to support other wage payments within the company.

Although employers are required to retain their employees for the duration of the subsidy, this does not mean that employees are guaranteed continued employment. Rather, employers who have to make staff redundant during the subsidy period will have to repay the balance of the subsidy.

This note is only an overview of the scheme. If you have a specific queries, we recommend you seek legal advice.


Aimee Elia

Claire Mansell


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