ISSUE 75 November 2020

A tranche of new Australian Federal Government Support for businesses taking on apprentices looks set to offer a critical opportunity for businesses in the window furnishings sector.

Steve Quirk, of the Australian Blind Industry Training & Employment Initiative (ABITEI) (a joint initiative and partnership between the BMAA and The Frontline Group) confirmed how the support will take shape.

“As part of its Economic Response to COVID-19, the Government has announced an additional $1.2 billion to further boost Australian Apprenticeship commencements and further encourage employers to take on an Australian Apprentices.

“The Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements Wage Subsidy is to further support 100,000 new apprentice and trainees that commence on or after 5 October 2020. The wage subsidy is similar to the current Supporting Apprentices and Trainees (SAT) payments, that is 50% of the total gross wage is paid back to the employer up to the maximum of $7,000 per quarter, per eligible Australian Apprentice. The gross wage includes allowances, overtime, penalty rates and any other amount, before any deductions are made.”

Quirk confirmed that for an employer to be eligible for Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements, the Australian Apprentice must be one of the first 100,000 Australian Apprentices that commence or with an employer or Host employer, regardless of size, on or after the 5 October. This applies to both new and existing workers.

For the employer to be eligible, the Australian Apprentice must also: be undertaking a Certificate II or higher qualification; and have a Training Contract that is formally approved by the STA.

The BAC Wage Subsidy reimburses the employer the total gross wages from 5 October 2020 until 30 September 2021 and capped at $7,000 per quarter.

He noted that  the following are  excluded and are not eligible for the Boosting Apprenticeships Commencement Wage Subsidy:

  • Federal Government entities
  • State Government entities that do not operate as a Statutory Authority, Body Corporate or Statutory Body
  • Directors or partners of a company, a trustee of the trust, a franchisee or a shareholder that has substantial financial concern in the business
  • New Zealand passport holders that have been in Australia for LESS than 6 months
  • Temporary VISA holders
  • In receipt of another wage subsidy or a supported wage arrangement.

“In terms of support available via the Job Trainer Skills package, The Australian Government has extended the Supporting Apprentices and Trainees wage subsidy, to include medium-sized businesses who had an apprentice in place on 1 July 2020.”

“Eligible employers can apply for a wage subsidy of 50 per cent of an eligible apprentice or trainee’s wages paid until 31 March 2021. Significantly, in addition to the existing support for small businesses, medium-sized businesses will now be eligible for the subsidy, for wages paid from 1 July 2020 to 31 March 2021.”

“Subsidies will also be available to any new employer who re-engages an eligible apprentice that was displaced by an eligible small or medium sized business.”

A small business may be eligible if it:

  • employs fewer than 20 people; or
  • is a small business with fewer than 20 people, using a Group Training Organisation; and
  • the apprentice or trainee was undertaking an Australian Apprenticeship on 1 July 2020 for claims after this date. Claims prior to 1 July 2020, will continue to be based on the 1 March 2020 eligibility date.

A medium-sized business may be eligible if it:

  • employs fewer than 200 people; or
  • is a medium business with fewer than 200 people, using a Group Training Organisation; and
  • the apprentice or trainee was undertaking an Australian Apprenticeship on 1 July 2020.

Any employer (including all small, medium, or large businesses and Group Training Organisations) who re-engages an apprentice or trainee displaced from an eligible small or medium business may also be eligible for the subsidy.

“To sum up, employers are advised that if they wish to have any staff trained, now is the time!” said Quirk. “All existing and new staff could be eligible for the new boosting subsidy, and businesses and employers should take advantage while they can.”

Sign up to the WFA Newsletter