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Supporting sole traders through the effects of Coronavirus

27 March 2020

Joint media release with the Minister for Families and Social Services Senator the Hon Anne Ruston.

The Morrison Government is expanding the eligibility criteria for JobSeeker Payment to support sole traders and Australians who are self-employed if their income is negatively affected by the economic impact of the Coronavirus.

Under temporary changes to social security rules, sole traders will be encouraged to keep their business operating but may be able to access income support should their earnings take a significant hit.

Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston said the changes mean that sole traders who were now eligible for JobSeeker or Youth Allowance (other) would also receive the $550 fortnightly Coronavirus supplement.

“The Government is absolutely committed to supporting all Australians get through the coming months so we can all bounce back stronger than ever,” Minister Ruston said.

“These rules are designed to make sure sole traders can access income support if they find their income significantly reduced through no fault of their own.”

Previously to determine if a self-employed person was unemployed for the purpose of accessing social security payments they had to be genuinely willing to seek and be available to take up alternative work effectively requiring their business to close.

If someone remained committed to continuing with their business then they were not considered unemployed and could not access payments.

This test has been temporarily removed to allow sole traders to continue operating. Income testing will apply consistent with current arrangements which allows individuals to earn more than $1000 per fortnight before losing access to payment.

Under the temporary arrangements a range of JobSeeker Payment eligibility criteria has been relaxed including waiving the assets test, liquid assets waiting period, seasonal work preclusion period and newly arrived residents’ waiting period.

Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business Michaelia Cash said in line with the changes sole traders would be able to use work in their own business to meet their mutual obligations.

“We are making sure that sole traders have maximum flexibility to maintain cash flow in these extraordinary circumstances,” Minister Cash said.

For more information go to www.dss.gov.au/about-the-department/coronavirus-covid-19-information-and-support

Media Contacts

Minister Ruston's office: 02 6277 7560

Minister Cash's office: 02 6277 7610