A message to our customers

For more than 50 years, BT has supported our customers and community through the good and tough times. Our priority is to support our customers and the Australian economy through this difficult period.

The situation surrounding Coronavirus (COVID-19) is uncertain and changing regularly, which has created a very challenging and stressful time for many employers.

Keeping up to date with government responses and knowing what you can do to look after your people and your business can help.

Below we have outlined key points for employers about superannuation initiatives, your obligations during this time and the impact of COVID-19 on financial markets.

Understanding your super guarantee obligations

JobKeeper payments and super guarantee obligations

If your business has been significantly impacted by COVID-19, you may be eligible to access the JobKeeper program so you can continue paying your employees during this time. Under this program, you may be able to claim a fortnightly payment of $1,500 (before tax) per eligible employee (employed and retained in your employment since 1 March 2020) from 30 March 2020. It is currently available until 27 September 2020.

Superannuation guarantee (SG) is not payable on JobKeeper payments that exceed an employee’s regular wages. This means if the employee is currently receiving more than their usual wages because of the JobKeeper payment, an employer only has to pay SG on the employee’s usual wages. For example, if the fortnightly wage paid to an employee is $1,200 (before tax), SG is to be paid on that amount. As part of the JobKeeper payment an additional $300 is to be paid to the employee (the employer must ensure that each eligible employee they nominate receives at least $1,500 per fortnight (before tax)) – the additional payment of $300 is not subject to superannuation (at the employers option)  and the employer must continue to pay the superannuation guarantee on the amount of $1200 per fortnight.  

Where the employee’s usual wages are only partially subsidised by the JobKeeper payment (ie their usual wages exceed the JobKeeper amount) the employer is liable to pay SG on the full amount paid to the employee.

For more information on the JobKeeper program, read the Factsheet for Employers or visit https://treasury.gov.au/coronavirus/jobkeeper

 

Super guarantee payment deadlines during COVID-19  

The law does not allow the ATO to vary the quarterly SG due dates, so there is no flexibility to extend the due dates for employers during the COVID-19 crisis. This means the SG charge will apply to any SG contributions not made by the due date.

However, if you are experiencing difficulties, the ATO is encouraging employers to:

  • pay what they can by the due date, even if it’s not the full amount, as this will reduce any SG charges.
  • contact them (the ATO) as soon as possible to discuss possible alternate SG payment arrangements.


Super guarantee amnesty and COVID-19 

The SG amnesty is a one-off opportunity for employers to correct any unpaid or underpaid super guarantee amounts they owe their employees, without incurring penalties and still receive a tax deduction. The amnesty came into effect on 6 March 2020 and employers must apply before 7 September 2020 to participate – find out more about this Government initiative.

If you are experiencing difficulties making payments due to the impacts of COVID-19, you must still apply before 7 September 2020, however the ATO has advised they can work with businesses to establish a payment plan which can extend beyond this period.

Only amounts paid toward the SGC identified as eligible for the amnesty and paid before 7 September 2020 will be eligible for a tax deduction.

Find out more about the ATO’s position regarding the SG Amnesty and COVID-19 impacts for employers. 

Support for your employees

Early access to superannuation for your employees

Eligible individuals experiencing financial stress due to the impacts of COVID-19 can apply to have limited access to their superannuation savings. If they are eligible, they will be able to access up to a maximum of $10,000 of their super in the 2019/20 financial year and another $10,000 in the 2020/21 financial year. They can only make one application per financial year for any amount up to $10,000.  They can apply for early access from 20 April 2020 up to and including 24 September 2020.

Generally if your employees were made redundant or have had their working hours reduced by 20% or more since 1 January 2020 they may be eligible to apply.

Read more about early access to super


Looking after your employee’s wellbeing

BT’s My Wellbeing portal has a dedicated COVID-19 hub to help you and your employees manage your mental, physical and financial health during this time. The portal includes videos, articles and wellbeing challenges employees can engage with whilst working at home. 

The My Wellbeing portal is available exclusively for our employers and their employees. Find out more and register by visiting My Wellbeing.

What’s happening in the markets

COVID-19 impact on financial markets

Global markets continue to experience significant levels of volatility since the COVID-19 outbreak. This volatility in markets is an indicator of the level of investor uncertainty, which has increased as COVID-19 has spread and governments around the world attempt to swiftly contain it.

Read more about market impacts in our regular updates.

BT’s Melinda Howes, says while the COVID-19 pandemic is first and foremost a health concern, Australians are understandably anxious about the security of their superannuation savings in volatile markets.

Read the article: COVID-19 shines a light on super strategies

We’re here to help

Westpac packages for banking customers 

If you are an existing Westpac customer, there are a number of support measures available to you during this time. 

Read about Westpac’s COVID-19 support for individuals and businesses

For up-to-date information about your funds, login to the app, online portal or online banking site relevant to your investment.

During this changing environment, we know you may be looking for information on how we are managing this event now and in the future.