This article originally appeared on DriveTax 

With the spreading of the Coronavirus, on-demand drivers are being hit hard. Drivers are struggling with fewer trips, lower income, and concerns for their health and safety.

Centrelink benefits have become available for rideshare drivers, and the ATO is also offering coronavirus support. Here’s what you need to know about the JobKeeper and JobSeeker benefits for on-demand drivers:

Government benefit payments for Uber drivers

1. JobKeeper Payment – $1,500 per fortnight, via the ATO
2. JobSeeker Payment –from $510.80 to $612 per fortnight, via Centrelink, completed with:

JobKeeper vs. JobSeeker – Which one is better?

The JobKeeper Payment is the one that puts the most money in your pocket, so if you apply and you’re eligible for both, you’ll automatically get the the JobKeeper Payment.

If you’re not sure you’re eligible for the JobKeeper Payment, we recommend you to register your Intent To Claim for the smaller JobSeeker Payment as well. That way if you’re refused you can still submit your JobSeeker application and the ATO will backdate your payment to the date you first registered your intent. Read the instructions below:

1. ATO JobKeeper Payment for Uber drivers

What is the JobKeeper Payment?

Announced on the 30th of March 2020, the JobKeeper Payment is intended to keep Australian businesses and employees afloat until the COVID-19 crisis passes. The JobKeeper Payment is the largest payment available for Uber- and rideshare drivers, and all sole-traders.

Please note that the JobKeeper Payment has not yet been approved by Parliament and passed into law, so the details here may change.

Who is eligible for the JobKeeper Payment?

The primary requirement is that your turnover (your income before expenses) has decreased by 30% relative to a comparable period a year ago. What happens if you’ve been trading less than a year is unclear as of now. After your initial application, you’ll have to report your turnover to the ATO on a monthly basis to continue receiving the payment.

If you don’t meet the 30% decline rule, you can apply for the JobSeeker Payment instead.

Regarding citizenship, the government has not specified about sole-traders yet, but it’s likely to be the same rules as for employees. Employees can receive the benefit  if they’re Australian citizens, Special Category (Subclass 444) visa holders, or have a different visa that meets the JobSeeker Payment eligibility criteria .

We’ll update this section as soon as more information becomes available.

Are part-time Uber drivers eligible for the JobKeeper Payment?

Here’s how the rules apply if you have day job and also drive Uber part-time:

  • You can only receive one JobKeeper Payment.
  • If possible, it’s best to claim the JobKeeper Payment through your employer, so you don’t have to report your sole-trader income monthly to the ATO or worry about the 30% decline rule.
  • If your employer dissolves your work contract with no JobKeeper Payment, you can apply for it as a sole-trader or claim the JobSeeker Payment.

How to apply for the JobKeeper Payment?

For now, the ATO have set up a page to register your interest, and they say that more information will be sent by email soon. You’ll need your ABN handy to fill in the form and you should also check that your bank account details are up to date on your MyGov ATO account.

2. Centrelink JobSeeker Payment for Uber drivers

What is the JobSeeker Payment?

The JobSeeker Payment is Australia’s primary unemployment support payment. It was previously called Newstart. For Uber drivers, this is the backup option if you’re not eligible for the JobKeeper Payments.

If you’re eligible for the JobSeeker Payment you’ll also automatically receive the Coronavirus Supplement of $550/fortnight and the $750 one-off Household Support Payment.

The maximum fortnightly payment amounts are as follows:

Marital status Maximum JobSeeker allowance Coronavirus Supplement Total
Single, no children $565.70 $550 $1,115.70
Single, with children $612.00 $550 $1,162.00
Partnered $510.80 $550 $1,060.80

Your benefit payment begins to reduce gradually as your earnings reach $104 per fortnight. The point where the JobSeeker Payment cuts out depends on your circumstances. Read more about the income test used to determine the eligibility of applicants.

If you rent your home you may also be eligible for Rent Assistance, which can be up to $139 extra per fortnight. This is an add-on to the JobSeeker Payment, and Centrelink will add this for you during the application process, you don’t have to apply separately.

Who is eligible for the JobSeeker Payment?

The requirements for the JobSeeker Payment have been reduced in light of the COVID-19 epidemic, to expand access. For sole traders such as yourself, the assets test and waiting times have been waived.

Centrelink’s requirements now are that you meet the residence rules and that your net income (income minus deductions) has fallen below $1,075 per fortnight, and your partner’s income is also below $3,067 per fortnight or $79,762 per year (this has been increased from $48,000).

If you’re a temporary resident or on a student visa, the situation is not yet clear. The Government is still deciding whether to expand the eligibility criteria. Right now it seems that existing eligibility and residency rules are still in place. But some waiting periods have already been waived for those in the process of becoming citizens, and it is possible that more eligibility restrictions will be lifted. We’ll update this section as soon as more information becomes available.

How to apply for the JobSeeker Payment?

If your fortnightly income has dropped below $1,075, the first thing you need to do is register your intention to claim. Since the application process may take a while given how many people are affected by the crisis, Centrelink can use this to backdate any delayed payments to the moment you first reached out. You can do the whole application and ID check online without going to a Centrelink office.

If you already have a MyGov account that is linked to Medicare or the ATO, you just need to log in and there will be a popup where you can register your intention to claim.

2.1 What is the Coronavirus Supplement?

As mentioned above, if you’re eligible for the JobSeeker Payment you’ll also automatically receive the Coronavirus Supplement of $550/fortnight as well as the $750 one-off Household Support Payment.

Coronavirus Supplement Payments begin on April 27th and will run for six months.

Am I Eligible for the Coronavirus Supplement?

To receive the Coronavirus Supplement, you must first be eligible to receive one of the following payments:

  • JobSeeker Payment (formerly known as the Newstart Allowance)
  • Sickness Allowance
  • Youth Allowance for jobseekers
  • Parenting Payment Partnered
  • Parenting Payment
  • Single Partner Allowance
  • Farm Household Allowance
  • Youth Allowance students and apprentices

How to apply for the Coronavirus Supplement?

Once you’re registered for the JobSeeker Payment or either one of the above Centrelink benefits, you’ll get the Coronavirus Supplement automatically. You don’t have to do anything else.

2.2 What is the Household Support Payment?

In addition to the JobSeeker Payment, the Government is also helping the unemployed, low-income households and other income support recipients with two one-off, $750 payments.

Payment #1 – $750 – after 31st March

You’ll get this payment automatically if you have your residence in Australia and you were eligible for the JobSeeker Payment or other income support between 12 March 2020 to 13 April 2020.

Payment #2 – $750 – after 13th July

The same conditions apply here, with the difference that this payment is for those that aren’t eligible for the fortnightly Coronavirus Support.  It’s particularly aimed at seniors and pensioners.

If you’re eligible for the second Household Support Payment you’ll receive it automatically, you do not need to do anything.

More information about Government support payments for on-demand drivers

For more official information about the COVID-19 epidemic and support, visit the Australian Government’s dedicated coronavirus support page. If you want more information about how the payments and benefits apply to you, please read the online information first. If you must contact Centrelink please do so via phone on 1300 169 468.

Other support options

Splend support

 Top up your income with parcel and food deliveries

A word on health and safety

The safety of our members and staff remains our number one priority. We’re working tirelessly to align our operations with the Government’s restrictions and advice, so we can protect each other, assume social responsibility, and do our part in easing the pressure on the healthcare system.

Take a moment to read our safety guide:

Other useful COVID-19 resources

About Splend

At Splend we help on-demand drivers thrive. As a result, we continue to help our members through the COVID-19 outbreak. Our dedicated Member Success Representatives and Member Care Team are on standby to answer any questions you might have.

During the pandemic, our Member Support Centres will operate strictly by appointment only. Simply give us a call on 1800 775 363 and make an appointment, so we can ensure the safest conditions for your visit.