The number of people on the JobKeeper payment has fallen quite dramatically since the scheme’s extension was announced last July. However, according to Treasury estimates, approximately 100,000 unfortunate people are at risk of losing their jobs with the 28 March JobKeeper subsidy end date in Australia. Other than JobSeeker, it is yet to be announced whether there will be a further scheme to replace JobKeeper after March 2021. Here are our recommended money moves to prepare for 2021 and tips to save money after COVID 19 protections end, so that you don’t find yourself in a financial mess!
What Happens to JobKeeper After March 2021 and How To Apply for the JobSeeker Unemployment Benefit
The JobKeeper end date is the 28th of March 2021, which means current JobKeeper recipients will receive payment for work completed up to and including this date. Note that Centrelink’s temporary waiver for waiting periods ends on 31 March 2021, so if you know that you will be out of work, we strongly suggest you get started with your JobSeeker payment application now so that you can get all of the required paperwork together and finalise your JobSeeker claim before this date.
Use Centrelink’s Payment Checker to find out what you are eligible for, and apply for JobSeeker and other benefits via the Australian Government’s my.gov.au portal. Other than making the transition from JobKeeper to JobSeeker there doesn’t seem to be a JobKeeper replacement in the pipeline, and nobody knows for sure what happens when JobKeeper ends in March 2021! However, it is presumed that the Government will be keeping track and might implement changes if necessary.
Double Check Your Payouts
Whilst a lot of people may be inclined to estimate their payout entitlements when leaving a job, it is imperative to do so if you have been on JobKeeper, to make sure you get paid out correctly (especially if you still need to pay debt when JobKeeper ends). According to fairwork.gov.au, employees are still eligible to accrue their usual leave entitlements, even if they have been given a stand-down direction. This means that if you were working full time before COVID, you should still have accumulated annual leave as though you were working full time over this period, regardless of whether or not you were stood down – and you are entitled to be paid out this amount of accrued leave. To make this easier, use the Fair Work Leave Accrual Calculator.
You should also double-check that your employer has paid your Super contributions during this time – just sign in via the my.gov.au online portal, under “Services” select “ATO”, scroll down, and under “Super” select “Check Super”. Whilst super is usually paid quarterly, most awards state that final payments should be paid within 7 days of employment ending. Speak to your employer to double-check that everything is in order, and if you are unsure, get in touch with FairWork and/or the ATO.
JobKeeper Unemployed and Lost Job? Review Your Budget and Cut Expenses
Crunching your budget is crucial when you are staring down the barrel of unemployment – it helps you figure out how long you can last before you run out of money and gives insight into areas where you can cut your spending. Things like memberships, subscriptions, takeaway, online shopping, and all non-essential spending should be culled, and where possible, see if you can reduce the usual cost of recurring expenses such as groceries. If you won’t be able to pay your bills at all, reach out to your creditors and apply for hardship to reduce or suspend your payments.
Get a Better Deal
As well as cutting out unnecessary expenses, reducing the cost of your other recurring expenses can go a long way to easing the financial burden of unemployment. Use a comparison site such as Mozo.com.au to compare and save on your mortgage interest rate, the interest and benefits on your credit cards and personal loans, your energy bill, and even your car, home, and contents insurance! If you have cash savings stashed away, this Mozo article has some awesome recommendations as to where you can put your cash to get a better savings interest rate!
Note that if you had life insurance through your employer, you might lose those benefits as a result of becoming unemployed – so be sure to double-check you are adequately covered before you lose these benefits! Mozo also has an awesome collection of free calculators in the Mozo Resources section of its website, which makes it way easier to crunch those numbers and figure out how much you could save!
Get Professional Debt Assistance
If your expenses seriously exceed your income, your interest is compounding faster than you can pay it, and you are seriously struggling to make ends meet as a result of unbearable debt, you might need professional debt assistance from a debt advice expert. Debt can spiral out of control very quickly, so it’s important not to “stick your head in the sand”. Addressing debt can seem like a scary thing, however, most often it’s the uncertainty that causes people to feel anxious and avoid dealing with it. By speaking to a professional personal insolvency service such as Credit Counsellors we can help you remove that uncertainty so you can learn about all of the options, make an informed decision and deal with debt before it gets out of control.
Many people are surprised to learn that insolvency laws in Australia are designed to help protect people who are struggling in debt, so that they can have the possibility of starting fresh with their finances, thus freeing people of the burden of spending the rest of their lives as a “debt slave”. Don’t spend hours stressing and Googling – call us for a free and confidential debt assessment to learn about the possible options and be guided in the right direction.