Unions and businesses in the Illawarra have welcomed the Federal Government's decision to give wage subsidies of up to $1500 a fortnight to businesses for each worker they keep on during the coronavirus.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the wages subsidy was designed to keep the engine of Australia's economy running during the present crisis.
The $1500 allowance per employee will be available to businesses that have taken a 30 per cent hit to turnover because of COVID-19.
Companies turning over more than $1 billion are eligible if they have taken a 50 per cent hit.
The subsidies lasting six months will be provided to businesses with full-time, part-time and casual workers who have been with their employer for at least 12 months.
Sole traders are also eligible. Payments start on the first week of May and be backdated to March 30. And workers stood down since March 1 will be eligible.
South Coast Labour Council secretary Arthur Rorris said the union movement welcomed the intervention to subsidise the wages of many workers affected by the Covid 19 crisis.
"This is something that unions and business have been calling for to provide security for workers and some certainty for employers," Mr Rorris said.
"It is not everything we wanted but it is a bold measure and will hopefully be strengthened further by including many workers in different employment arrangements".
Mr Rorris said examples were new casuals, contractors and many in the arts and entertainment industries who do not have more conventional employer-employee relationships
"The health front cannot be won with empty stomachs and if we want to hold on to the maximum number of jobs and businesses during and after this crisis we need subsidies."
Illawarra Business Chamber executive director Adam Zarth said wage subsidies would encourage employers in the region to keep trading or go into hibernation while still supporting their workers.
"This package is about instilling confidence in businesses, to enable them to keep the doors open and keep their employees on the books so that the economy can start up again quickly," Mr Zarth said.
"It is vital that we keep as many employees in their jobs and out of the welfare system, and preserve their skills and connection to their employer".
" This measure will allow affected businesses to either keep their doors open and maintain operations as best they can or to go into hibernation for the next six months, and support their employees during this time."
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