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Lost your job due to the coronavirus? Here’s where to get help

There are lots of ways to get financial support if you've lost your job or are suddenly out of work.

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Losing your job is scary, there's no doubt about it. But know that you're not alone, and there is support out there for you. We've put together a list of ways you can get help, in the hope it'll make these tough times a little easier.

Quick summary: What help can I get?

  • The Australian Government announced on 30 March 2020 that you may be eligible for payments of $1,500 from your employer if you've lost out on shifts or lost your job. Before applying for Centrelink, call your employer and ask if you're eligible for their JobKeeper payment, and read our JobKeeper guide.
  • This is a payment that will come through your workplace, not from Centrelink. It's money given to businesses from the government to incentivise them to keep their employees.
  • JobKeeper is available for retrenched employees if their employer puts them back on the books.
  • If you're not eligible for JobKeeper, there are two payments you might be eligible for: the JobSeeker payment and the Coronavirus Supplement.
  • The JobSeeker payment - formerly known as Newstart - is for those who are unemployed or do not have enough work.
  • For most people, the JobSeeker payments equal $565.70/fortnight, but depending on cirumstances can rise to $790.10/fortnight.
  • Waiting periods and assets tests has been waived (which means you can still have savings). You'll also only have to apply for four jobs per month.
  • The Coronavirus Supplement is a temporary, additional top-up payment of $550 a fortnight for people receiving eligible support payments. This includes JobSeeker, Youth Allowance, Austudy, Abstudy, Sickness Allowance, Parenting Payment and Farm Household Allowance. It will be applied automatically if you're eligible. See the Services Australia news update from 25 March 2020 for further details.
  • The Coronavirus Supplement begun on April 27 and will be available for at least 6 months.
  • That means that if you've lost your job as a result of coronavirus, you might be eligible for payments of $1100 a fortnight through both of these payments.
  • You can also take out up to $10,000 from your superannuation, tax-free. Make sure you read up on this and understand what this means for your super if you go ahead with it.

Apply for the JobSeeker payment from the Australian government

From 20 March 2020, the Services Australia JobSeeker payment is being introduced as the main payment for working-age Australians without a job, who are currently looking for work. From 22 March 2020, the government expanded the eligibility criteria of people who can apply for the JobSeeker Payment and Youth Allowance to include sole traders and self-employed people, as well as people caring for someone who is infected with coronavirus, or in isolation.

In addition, the government has temporarily increased the JobSeeker allowance, effective 27 April 2020. This means that both new and existing income support recipients will receive a temporary Coronavirus Supplement of $550 each fortnight for six months, in addition to their usual payment. The standard one-week waiting period has been waived and the step-be-step sign-up process streamlined.

From 25 March 2020, Services Australia has waived asset testing for 6 months (except for those requesting Farm Household Allowance and Special Benefit). It has also waived liquid asset testing, the waiting period for newly arrived residents and the seasonal work preclusion period. Note that income testing still applies, so you will need to include details of any forms of income you may be getting when you apply.

JobSeeker payment rates

Your situationYour maximum fortnightly payment
Single, no children$565.70
Single, with a dependent child or children$612.00
Single, aged 60 or over, after 9 continuous months on payment$612.00
Partnered$510.80 each
Family situationPayment reduces to nil once your income reaches this amount per fortnight
Single with no children.$1,086.50
Single, 60 years of age or older and have been receiving payment for at least 9 months continuously.$1,175.17
Single, principal carer, with a dependent child.$1,673.25
single principal carer of a dependent child, granted an exemption from mutual obligation requirements$2,124.75
Single, 60 years of age or older, and a principal carer with a dependent child. You must have been getting payment for at least 9 months continuously.$1,673.25
Single, with a dependent child but not the principal carer.$1,164.84
Partnered.$993.50 each

From 27 April 2020: $3,068.80 for your partner's income when you have no income.

What if I'm getting my annual leave paid out?

Unfortunately, if you're getting annual leave or sick leave paid out, you will not be eligible for any of the above welfare payments. When your annual or sick leave stops or runs out, you will then be able to apply.

Am I eligible for support if I have savings?

Yes. Normally, applicants for welfare with savings over a certain threshold are subject to an additional waiting period before being able to access payments, known as the Liquid Assets Waiting Period. However, the government is waiving this waiting period from the 27 April 2020 for new welfare applicants.

Am I eligible if my partner is still working?

This will depend on your joint income. Services Australia has different criteria for evaluating relationships and welfare payments, for example for JobSeeker payments. If your partner earns over a certain threshold fortnightly, this will reduce the payments you receive, potentially down to nothing if their income is high enough.

On 30 March, the threshold for partner income testing was raised to $79,600, making it easier for couples to access JobSeeker payments if one partner loses their job.

See if you're eligible for a payment from the government's stimulus package

The government is offering two separate $750 cash payments to benefit recipients, including people receiving JobSeeker, Family Tax Benefit, a pension or social security payment, as well as veterans and those with concession cards.

The first payment was applied automatically to those eligible from 31 March 2020, with the majority of payments sent out by mid-April. The second payment will be made from 13 July 2020, but will not apply to those that are eligible for the Coronavirus Supplement.

If you're out of a job because you're sick or caring for someone who is sick

If you're out of work because you caught COVID-19, have to self-isolate, or need to care for a loved one, there are ways to get financial support.

The government has waived the one-week wait time for tax-payer funded JobSeeker payments (which replaces the Sickness Allowance as of 20 March 2020) so you can access that as soon as you're off work.

Depending on the situation, you may be eligible for a Youth Allowance, JobSeeker Payment, or a Parenting Payment.

If you're a casual employee, independent contractor or gig economy worker, you might not be entitled to sick leave. However, a number of retailers are now offering paid leave to casual workers in Australia, including Officeworks, Target, Kmart and Woolworths.

As part of WA's recent stimulus package, public sector employees and casual workers in WA will get access to 20 days of sick leave to encourage sick people to stay home. The leave will apply to workers who have coronavirus, need to self-isolate, care for family or are unable to attend work due to the virus.

You could access up to $20,000, tax-free, from your super

If you're financially impacted by coronavirus, you can access up to $10,000 of your superannuation, from 20 April until 1 July 2020, and a further $10,000 from July until 24 September 2020. In order to be eligible for early release of funds from your super, you must be one or more of the following:

  • Unemployed.
  • Eligible for a job seeker payment, youth allowance, parenting payment, special benefit or farm household allowance.
  • Been made redundant or had your working hours reduced by 20% or more after 1 January 2020.
  • For sole traders, if your business has been suspended or your turnover was reduced by 20% or more.

If you're eligible to access your superannuation early, you will not need to pay tax on the amount released, nor will this impact your Centrelink or Veterans' Affairs payments. You can apply directly to the ATO through the myGov website, as early as mid-April 2020. However, there are several factors to consider before you access your super early.

Make a workers compensation claim

If you catch coronavirus (COVID-19) as a result of your work, you may be entitled to workers compensation. While you'll need to prove that your job played a significant role in you falling sick, it could help ease the financial burden.

This may be difficult for some jobs but if you can demonstrate a clear link, there is a chance you could receive financial help.

For example, your job may have involved travel to an area with a known outbreak, you might have been forced to interact with people who contracted the coronavirus, or you may have held responsibilities which contravened Department of Health recommendations.

Each claim will be considered on a case-by-case basis, but there is certainly a possibility that workers compensation could help many impacted workers.

Consider quick income methods to keep you afloat

There are side hustle options out there that can allow you to make money, without a lot of qualifications. If you're concerned about being in contact with people, focus on jobs you can do online for example.

Consider a low-interest loan

Rather than rush to a costly pay-day lender, there are a range of low-interest loans available on the market.

There is even a no interest loan scheme (NILs), which is managed by Good Shepherd Microfinance, a community organisation. You can apply for a loan of between $300 and $1,200 for 12-18 months - giving you time to get back on your feet as coronavirus concerns die down.

Explore alternatives to payday loans

Contact your insurer

If you're worried about your outgoings and want to limit your spending for a while, your insurer could help. Insurance companies will often pause premiums in times of financial hardship, without enforcing a break in cover. Give your insurer the heads up if you think you might be out of a job soon, and see if there's financial assistance available.

If you have income protection insurance

You may be able to claim on your income protection insurance if you meet your policy's requirements – for example, holding it for a certain period or being out of work for a certain length of time.

Contact your insurance company immediately to find out if you would be covered in the event you lost your job. The insurer will be able to walk you through the process if you are eligible to make a claim.

Contact your bank or lender

Many lenders will also offer help if you're in financial hardship. You may be able to take a mortgage repayment holiday, or pause payments on your personal loan or credit card.

Contact your utility provider

Call your provider and ask to speak to a hardship officer. The officer may help you work out a plan to pay bills in smaller instalments, or apply emergency utility vouchers. These vouchers can help you meet minimum payments. A number of utility providers are offering payment extension or payment plans to help you get on top of your payments.

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If you're struggling mentally

Losing your job and coping with a health crisis aren't easy, but you're not alone. If you're experiencing mental or emotional distress, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636. If it is an emergency, please call 000.

Picture: GettyImages

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32 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    TeenJune 30, 2020

    If only one person in a marriage had a job and the husband lost his job due to COVID19 and you both have no job now can you both claim Job Seeker and the COVID supplement?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JoyceJuly 1, 2020Staff

      Hi Teen,

      I hope this email finds you well. I’m sorry to hear your current situation. If your husband has been stood down from work, then he can still see if his employer is eligible for JobKeeper Payments. If not, and his income is below $3,068/fortnight, then you can both look at JobSeeker Payments as long as you meet certain eligibility requirements needed to receive the payment.

      Should you need help with confirming and updating your income and your partner’s current earnings, you may call Centrelink on 1800 952 220. Their phone line is open 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, Monday to Friday AEST.

      I hope this helps.

      Cheers,

      Joyce

  2. Default Gravatar
    AnthonyJune 11, 2020

    Hello.

    My partner was on a 60 hour contract with Woolworths and they have shuffled and manipulated their agreement due to coronavirus.A new contract was signed today revealing 32 hours per fortnight! What about the other 28 hours! Can they apply for jobseeker at all?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      TeyJune 12, 2020Staff

      Hi Anthony, 

      Thank you for reaching out to Finder.

      I am sorry to hear that your partner’s working hours has been reduced. Generally, your partner may apply for JobSeeker payment if he is a contact worker and his income has been reduced due to the coronavirus (COVID 19). To be eligible, he also needs to meet the following criteria:

      -between 22 and Age Pension age
      -meet residence rules
      -income and assets are under the test limits

      As his partner, you must earn less than $3,068 a fortnight ($79,762/year) for him to be eligible.  

      For a comprehensive guide to JobSeeker Payment eligibility and how to apply, you may visit this Finder page. Moreover, you can visit the Australian Government website for additional information.   

      Hope this helps. If any other questions arise, please feel free to contact us at any time.

      Best regards,
      Tey

  3. Default Gravatar
    AdrianMay 23, 2020

    I am an Australian citizen living in the UK and want to come back to Australia within the next few months. My question is am I entitled to the Jobseeker allowance? Thank you.

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      MeiMay 24, 2020Staff

      Hello Adrian,

      Thanks for getting in touch Finder.

      I see you want to know if you’d be eligible for JobSeeker Allowance once you come back to Australia.

      To get JobSeeker Payment you need to meet residence rules. According to Services Australia, you usually need to be an Australian resident to get a payment from them. This page explains how they define an Australian resident.

      You may be able to get JobSeeker Payment for 6 months, if you meet 2 conditions. These are that you:

      (1) hold a non-protected Special Category visa (SCV)
      (2) have lived in Australia without a break for at least 10 years right before you claim

      You can read more about that here.

      If any other questions arise, please feel free to contact us at any time.

      All the best,
      Mei

  4. Default Gravatar
    AnonymousMay 4, 2020

    I just lost my job, and I am looking for a new one right now.

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JhezMay 5, 2020Staff

      Hello there,

      Thank you for reaching out to us here at Finder.

      I am very sorry to hear that you lost your job. I understand that you are currently looking for a new one. Are you currently in Australia and looking for a jobseeker payment? What type of job are you looking for?

      Kindly check our careers page. If there’s a job that suits your skills please click on that and proceed with your online application. Once our team receives your application they will get in touch to inform you of the next step. Please note that our team is only reaching out to candidates who meet the role requirements. If you qualify, you will receive an email from a Finder team member about the next step.

      Regards,
      Jhez

  5. Default Gravatar
    IrisApril 23, 2020

    I just lost my job during this coronavirus issue. They were paying us as usual, suddenly we got messages that we are no longer going to get paid until further notice, meaning that only temps are not getting paid. So it looks like we lost the job because we are no longer getting our salary.

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      MeiApril 25, 2020Staff

      Hello Iris,

      Thank you for contacting Finder.

      I am sorry to hear about your present circumstance.

      Regarding your concern, if you lost your job as a temp due to Coronavirus and you are a casual employee working for that employer for at least 12 months, you may qualify to receive JobKeeper Payments. The first thing you can do is to call your employer and ask if they are applying for JobKeeper and if you’re eligible. You can read our JobKeeper guide to find out more about this benefit.

      However, if you or your employer are not qualified under the JobKeeper scheme, the government offers other support for individuals. Depending on your eligibility, you may qualify for JobSeeker Payments or Youth Allowance.

      To get JobSeeker Payment you need to meet some rules. You may read more about that here.

      In case you are not qualified to apply for any of the above because of your personal circumstances, you may try taking this Centrelink quiz to see what other payments and services you may be eligible for.

      We hope everything works out well on your end. If any other questions arise, please feel free to contact us at any time.

      Cheers,
      Mei

  6. Default Gravatar
    TanApril 23, 2020

    Hi,

    My employment was terminated because of the Coronavirus. I have 1 investment sharing 50% with another person. Will it affect my JobSeeker Supplement? Is it possible to know how Centrelink calculates the deduction from JobSeeker Supplement?

    Thank you.

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      MeiApril 25, 2020Staff

      Hello Tan,

      Thank you for visiting Finder.

      Sorry to hear about what happened to your employment. I hope you are coping well.

      Centrelink uses the gross amount to work out your entitlement. The gross payment is the total amount of salary or wages paid to you before any deductions. Deductions include tax and other personal deductions such as voluntary salary sacrificed contributions to super and some allowances.

      If you are getting income from your investment, any form of income may affect the amount of your JobSeeker payment.
      You can check the table of how payments are computed on this page of Services Australia.

      If any other questions arise, please feel free to contact us at any time.

      Cheers,
      Mei

  7. Default Gravatar
    JohnApril 21, 2020

    Am I able to access my super if my wife losses her job and our joint income is affected by 20%? Or is it only her super that can be accessed?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JoshuaApril 22, 2020Staff

      Hi John,

      Thanks for getting in touch with Finder. I hope all is well with you. 😃

      Regarding your question, John, you may access your super, but you need to meet eligibility requirements as well even if your wife lost her job. For example, you need to meet the following criteria:

      – You’re unemployed
      – You’re eligible to get a job seeker benefit, youth allowance for jobseekers, parenting payment or farm household allowance
      – You’ve been made redundant or had your working hours reduced by 20% or more since 1 January 2020
      – You’re a sole trader and you’ve had to pause your business operations, or your turnover has fallen by 20% or more, since 1 January 2020

      As you can see, John, the requirements for the early super access isn’t based on your partner’s eligibility. You would need to satisfy the requirements yourself to be able to access your super early.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

      Have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Joshua

  8. Default Gravatar
    JApril 16, 2020

    Hi, my wife (with 2 dependents) is on the Family Tax Benefit at 700 fortnight. I still work full time at 60k. Can my wife relinquish family tax benefit and apply for Jobseeker (and corona supplement) in hopes of receiving a higher amount?

    Thanks

  9. Default Gravatar
    JenApril 16, 2020

    I work 2 jobs, both long term. 1 is permanent part time contracted for 20 hrs per week and the 2nd is casual. I have lost my casual job which made up 30% of my income. My employer claims that they are not entitled to the job keeper supplement as they haven’t lost 30% of their business. My question is Am I entitled to anything?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JohnApril 17, 2020Staff

      Hi Jen,

      Since your employer with your casual job is not eligible for JobKeeper payments due to the requirements to claim this. You may ask your permanent part time employer if they are applying for this. Please note though that if they apply for Jobkeeper payments and get approved, as an employee you would need to meet the requirements as well as discussed in our JobKeeper article. Please click here to proceed to that page. Hope this helps!

      Cheers,
      Reggie

  10. Default Gravatar
    PiyaApril 14, 2020

    I’m a permanent employee of a private firm. I have been stood down due to covid-19 effect. I’m a permanent resident since May 2019. Since, basic requirement for Jobseeker Payment was at least four years of permanent residency in Australia, am I still eligible for Jobseeker Payment based on new rules due to covid-19?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      MayApril 20, 2020Staff

      Hi Piya,

      Thank you for reaching out to Finder.

      Under the JobSeeker scheme, residence rule is a very important consideration to be able to qualify and be eligible for the payment. You must meet these two conditions:

      – You hold a non-protected Special Category visa (SCV)
      – You have lived in Australia without a break for at least 10 years right before you claim.

      You can get more information about residence rule applicable to the JobSeeker here.

      I hope this helps. Keep safe.

      Best,
      May

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