JobKeeper vs JobSeeker for Sex Workers

/ RhED

John is an accountant who has considerable experience offering professional services to sex workers and industry and kindly offered to write commentary on accessing JobKeeper for sex workers. As JobKeeper is being modified in the coming weeks you can expect an update on this article as well so stay tuned!

JobKeeper v JobSeeker

IT is generally accepted that sex workers based in brothels are independent businesses. They are commonly called “sub-contractors” and classified as sole traders. They are engaged or hired by the owners of such establishments to produce income for both the establishment and for themselves.

Emergency COVID-19 financial support measures were introduced in March this year to assist businesses, and brothels were included.

The Federal Government announced JobKeeper to assist all sub-contractors as a means of supplementing their income during lockdown. Sub-contractors were required to register for JobKeeper via their accountant/tax agent provided they met the criteria of a reduction in income by 30% in comparison with the corresponding period 12 months earlier, or going forward, on a month-by-month comparison.

At the same time, the Federal Government announced JobSeeker for workers who had been employed by businesses but who had to be laid off as a result of lockdown restrictions. In the sex industry, this would cover duty, daily or night managers or hostesses or secretaries of the establishments. Some of those workers were still employed under the establishments’ business participation provision. No sex worker should have been enrolled under the JobSeeker provisions.

JobKeeper is supervised by the Australian Taxation Office, whereas JobSeeker is overseen by Services Australia, the new name for Centrelink.

In registering for JobKeeper, it is simply a matter of visiting or ringing your accountant/tax agent, filling out a document, the accountant/tax agent entering the data into the ATO’s computer network and then regularly updating the income-received level at the commencement of each month. Payment of the JobKeeper is then made to the sex worker within 14 days of the notification after the end of the previous month.

The JobSeeker application form is completed via attendance at Service Australia’s premises (i.e. the local Centrelink office) and is paid fortnightly.

JobKeeper, which has offered a significantly higher payment than JobSeeker, has been extended to March 28, 2021. JobSeeker is due to finish on December 31 this year. There has been no announcement to date whether either payment will be extended beyond those dates. But this may change with the delayed Federal Budget, to be announced in October.

If you did enrol for JobSeeker, it is possible to switch to JobKeeper but there is no back-payment for the difference. There is a lag period between the change-over in the types of payment but in the long run, JobKeeper is of more benefit to the sex worker.

The latest announcement from the Victorian State Government makes clear that brothels will not be allowed to reopen until the last date of the map on the road to recovery.

If you have any questions relating to JobKeeper and need assistance for registration – or simply require tax advice from a trusted expert in the sex-work field – then give John a call on 0414 532289. Based in Essendon in Melbourne’s northern suburbs.