The Finder app is here! 🥳

Get your savings sorted.

Coronavirus: How to get help if you’re a casual worker

If you're out of work due to coronavirus, you might be eligible for government payments of $1,100 a fortnight.

Last updated:

It can be a worrying time if you're a casual worker. Luckily, there are a few ways to get help. We've put together a list of what you need to know if you're a casual worker, especially if you need to take time off, are made unemployed or your work temporarily closes.

We'll update this page as the government announces more support and packages, so keep checking back.

Quick summary: What help can I get?

  • 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.
  • The JobSeeker payment pays $565.70/fortnight.
  • Waiting periods and assets tests has been waived (which means you can still have savings). You'll also only have to apply for 4 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 will begin 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.

What can I do if I lose my job or have my shifts cut?

If you lose your job or have shifts cut as a result of the coronavirus, you can access the following welfare support. Recipients of these benefits will see a $550 fortnightly increase on benefits due to the Coronavirus Supplement, or be eligible for a $750 Economic Support payment.

  • Jobseeker payment. Formerly known as Newstart, this is intended to assist those who are looking for work. The government has temporarily waived many waiting periods and expanded eligibility for the payment.
  • Youth allowance. This is an income supplement for job seekers aged 16 - 21, or full-time students or apprentices under the age of 25. If you've lost your job or casual shifts and are the right age, you may be able to access this payment.
  • Coronavirus Supplement. This is an additional $550 for those who are already on welfare payments. It will automatically be applied on 27th April.

Apart from welfare, you may also be able to access financial hardship assistance programs if you're having trouble paying your bills, or take money out of your superannuation early.

Centrelink has put together a quiz that lets you quickly see all potential payments and benefits that you might be eligible for.

Take the Centrelink Payment quiz

How much will Jobseeker pay me?

The Jobseeker payment usually only applies to people out of a job actively looking for work. However, it's been expanded in the face of the coronavirus outbreak.

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

Eligibility

On top of regular eligibility, the following people will also be able to access Jobseeker benefits from 27 April:

  • Permanent workers who have been stood down or lost their jobs.
  • Sole traders, self-employed people, contractors and casual workers who have had their income reduced.
  • Anyone caring for someone infected or in isolation because of contact with a coronavirus case.

While ordinary waiting periods are already waived until June 12 and the regular asset tests will be waived from April 27, you will still be subject to certain income requirements for eligibility.

What is the Coronavirus Supplement?

The Coronavirus Supplement is intended to provide additional support for Australians who are suffering financially as a result of the coronavirus. Basically, it's an extra $550 fortnightly payment that will be added to existing welfare payments from the 27th of April.

Eligibility

It applies to recipients of the following benefits:

  • JobSeeker Payment
  • Sickness Allowance
  • Youth Allowance for jobseekers
  • Parenting Payment Partnered
  • Parenting Payment Single
  • Partner Allowance
  • Sickness Allowance
  • Farm Household Allowance

What do I need to do to access the Coronavirus Supplement?

If you're on an eligible welfare program already, you won't have to do anything to get the Coronavirus Supplement. It will be automatically added to your payments from the 27th of April.

To apply for welfare, you can use MyGov via a Centrelink account or contact Services Australia to find out more information.

Accessing your superannuation early: what you should know

On 22 March 2020, the government announced that individuals in financial stress as a result of COVID-19 will be able to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in the 2019/20 financial year and a further $10,000 in 2020/21. These super withdrawals will be tax free.

Eligibility

In order to access your super early, you have to meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • You are unemployed.
  • You're eligible for certain welfare programs, including Jobseeker payments, Youth Allowance, Parenting Payment, or Farm Household Allowance.
  • You've been made redundant or had your hours reduced by 20% since 1 January 2020.
  • You're a sole trader and you've had to pause your business or seen your turnover drop by 20% since 1 January 2020.

Those who meet one of these requirements can access up to $10,000 from their super starting on April 20 till July 1. A further $10,000 will be available to access from July 1 until September 20.

Should I withdraw from my super early?

For those in severe financial difficulty, it can be tempting to withdraw some of your super now to pay urgent bills or other critical life costs. However, there are a couple of things to consider:

  • Impact on retirement. Any money you withdraw now won't be available at retirement. Funds in your super are invested and will probably have grown in the future, so you're not just taking $10,000 from your retirement, but potentially $100,000.
  • Low markets. Right now, stocks have crashed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Withdrawing your funds at present will mean that you're freezing those losses in for the long term.

For more information on what's involved and possible alternatives, see our guide to early super access during the coronavirus outbreak.

Am I eligible for support if I'm a student?

Yes. Full-time students who are 24 or younger are eligible for Youth Allowance, while those who are older than 24 can access Austudy payments.

Students on Youth Allowance will be further eligible for the ongoing $550 a fortnight Coronavirus Supplement boost from April 27. Students on Austudy may be eligible for a one-off $750 Economic Support payment, paid by the 17th of April.

Am I eligible for support if I'm under 22?

Potentially. While the Jobseeker payment is only available for those over the age of 22, job seekers aged 16 - 21 might be able to access Youth Allowance. People aged 16 - 24 who are studying full time or doing a full time Australian Apprenticeship may also be eligible for Youth Allowance as a student. If you are on Youth Allowance, you will be eligible for the ongoing $550 a fortnight Coronavirus Supplement boost from April 27.

However, if you're living with your parents or other guardians and are under 22 years old, you will be assessed as either financially dependent or independent, which can impact your payments. If you're classified as financially dependent, then your ability to access payments will depend on your parent's income.

You are considered as a dependent unless you meet certain criteria, including:

  • Showing you support yourself through work.
  • Being in a registered relationship, or having a dependent child of your own.
  • Being unable to live at home or having parents who can't look after you.
  • Being a job seeker who is assessed as being unable to work over 30 hours a week.

More details, including the full criteria for independence, can be found on the Services Australia page. If you are judged to be dependent, your payments and eligibility will depend on your guardians' incomes.

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.

How to request financial hardship for your bills

Many services, from broadband to energy providers to banks, have financial hardship systems in place for customers who are struggling to pay their bills. Given the huge economic impact of the coronavirus, these programs are more important than ever.

Usually, to access financial hardship measures, you simply need to contact the relevant provider and state you're having financial difficulty. For a list of special financial hardship measures and help available as a result of the coronavirus, see our regularly updated guide here.

Can income protection help me?

Income protection insurance is designed to pay you a regular income for a particular period of time over which you're unable to work due to disability or illness. While it can be extremely helpful for full-time employees who are affected by the coronavirus, it's much less useful for casual workers.

This is because casual workers aren't eligible for standard income protection policies, but also because you won't be able to access any of the expanded welfare benefits outlined in this article if you're receiving income protection payments. It's entirely possible that welfare will benefit you more than income protection would.

That said, some specialist insurers cover casual workers, so options do exist. For a rundown on how income protection policies cover COVID-19 and the coronavirus in particular, see our full guide.

Help you can access if you are exposed to coronavirus

If you're exposed to coronavirus as a result of your work, you may be able to access the following services:

  • Workers compensation: In order to be eligible for workers compensation, you'll need to prove that the virus was contracted directly from your workplace or due to your working conditions and that significant measures were not in place to protect you from this. Workers compensation is handled by individual states and territories, you can find more information here.
  • Government stimulus package: At the moment, the Government has a stimulus package but it only works for those who have been directly impacted by coronavirus, not those workplaces that might temporarily shut down as a result of coronavirus, such as a cafe or clothing store. The Federal Government has announced a large stimulus package that includes a one-off $750 cash payment to people already on Centrelink benefits. However you have to already be on these payments to receive it, which means you probably are already unemployed or working reduced hours.
  • State stimulus packages: WA recently announced a $607 million stimulus package which will freeze household fees until the next financial year (June 30, 2021). Western Australians will still have to pay their bills, but there will be no increases in line with inflation, as was originally intended. Tasmania has also announced that it will provide one-off emergency relief payments for casual workers and those on low incomes of $250 for individuals, as well as $1,000 for families forced to self-isolate. It's expected that more states will announce state stimulus packages which you might be able to benefit from.

Need to find some quick savings?

It's a pretty uncertain and scary time right now and being in financial stress can make it all the worse. If you're struggling to keep up with your finances, there are ways you can make some quick savings to relieve the burden. Maybe switching credit cards or downgrading your mobile phone plan could help you save some money.

Managing your daily finances can help you get through this difficult time - you'll be glad you did it.

What are my rights as a casual worker?

As it stands, casual workers are not currently entitled to paid sick leave in Australia under the National Employment Standards. This means that if you're not able to work due to coronavirus or because you're required to self-isolate, you won't be entitled to paid leave in the way part time or full time workers are.

If an employer enforces isolation or closes the business, casual workers are still not entitled to paid leave. At the moment, your best option is to speak to your employer and see if you can come to an agreement about paid leave should they need to temporarily shut down.

Remember that if you are dismissed and you feel it is harsh, unjust or unreasonable, you are protected by the Fair Work Act and can lodge a complaint.

What other steps can you take to protect yourself?

If you are anticipating that your income is going to be severely reduced you should plan ahead. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Cut down on excess spending. Eating out, buying things you don't absolutely need. It's a good idea to put money into an emergency fund. If you need help tracking your money and maximising your savings, consider using the Finder app.
  • Look at income protection if you don't already have it. Speak to an advisor about your options and check your superannuation.
  • Contact your utilities and providers. Ask them about financial hardship plans, bill freezing or pausing. If you have insurance, many providers will allow you to temporarily pause your premiums if you can't afford them but still cover you.
  • See which expenses you can reduce quickly. Is there anything you don't need? Something you could sell? If so, it might be worth doing.
  • Look for alternative work. If you have lost your job or have had shifts cut you might consider finding work in a new industry that has been less impacted by the pandemic. For instance, Coles has announced the creation of 5000 new casual roles to cope with increased demand. Telstra has also signalled that will hire an additional 1000 temporary staff in their call centres. The NSW Government also announced $250 million for public schools and state-owned buildings to employ more cleaners, with $750 million to be spent on capital works and maintenance of public assets as well.

Ways to make money online and keep up with your expenses

What if you already have credit card debt?

If you're worried about your ability to pay your monthly credit card payments, it might be worth looking into a balance transfer credit card. This type of card charges 0% of interest for a certain period of time (anywhere between 6 months to 26 months depending on the card). Not paying interest on your card could help while you get back on your feet.

Avoid payday loans

Try to steer clear of taking out payday loans or cash advances. While easy to get, these loans are incredibly expensive and will end up costing you far more than the original sum you borrowed. If you're stretched financially, you might want to consider these alternatives to payday loans.

If you do take out a loan, your best option might be a no interest loan scheme (NILs), which is managed by Good Shepherd Microfinance, a community organisation. This lets you apply for a loan for up to $1,200 and gives you 12 to 18 months to pay back.

Take care of your mental health

There is a lot of stress and anxiety in the world right now and that can be made worse if you're struggling financially. It's important to know where to get help if you're finding it hard to cope.

If you're experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression, try reaching out to Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636. You can speak with trained mental health professionals over the phone or through the online forum. Their website also contains excellent information and tools for maintaining good mental health.

If you are experiencing a mental health crisis or severe emotional distress, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. They are a 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention network.

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger call 000 to get help from emergency services as soon as possible.

For more coronavirus help and information:

Picture: GettyImages

Related Posts

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com.au:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com.au is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder only provides general advice and factual information, so consider your own circumstances, or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. By submitting a question, you're accepting our Terms of Use, Disclaimer & Privacy Policy and Privacy & Cookies Policy.

24 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    DonnaMarch 26, 2020

    I’m a practice nurse, my husband is a Uber driver.
    I returned from New Zealand and placed in isolation.
    When I return to work, my hours will be cut.
    My husband has no work.
    We can’t pay our rent.
    We are also a career for an elderly parent
    We won’t be able to stay in our accommodation and unable to pay our bills with my small income

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      AlexandraMarch 26, 2020Staff

      Hi Donna,

      So sorry to hear about what’s going on – it must be really stressful for you all.

      If you’re finding that you and your partner are earning under $993.50 each/fortnight, then you might be eligible for Jobseeker payments.

      On top of that, you may also be eligible for the extra $550 a fortnight in the Coronavirus Supplement, which is applied automatically to anyone who’s on welfare payments and out of work due to the virus.

      You may also be eligible for caretaking payments.

      1. I would recommend taking this Centrelink quiz to get an idea of what you’re eligible for.
      2. Try and get in contact with Centrelink today or tomorrow and start your application process. You can also start this online. Your Jobseeker payments will be backdated to when you first began your application.
      3. As you’re at risk of eviction, you may be able to claim for crisis payment under extreme circumstances.
      4. Reach out to your real estate and see if they’re able to delay your rental payments. Some landlords have been quite considerate in this time.

      There are also a bunch of banks, telcos, and energy providers that are also offering hardship programs that you may be able to benefit from. We’ve got a guide on it here.

      I hope this helps, Donna, and please reach out if you have any other questions.

      Best of luck,
      Alexandra

  2. Default Gravatar
    RachealMarch 25, 2020

    I am a casual worker and today I was told there will be no shifts available for at least the next two months. I am an not a citizen or permanent resident but have lived here for 5 years on a special visa. I receive family assistance and accomodation benefits but are there anything else I can apply for?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      AlexandraMarch 26, 2020Staff

      Hi Rachael,

      I’m really sorry to hear about what’s happened.

      I’m not 100% sure what you’d be eligible for as I’m not sure what visa you’re on, but I’d recommend getting in touch with Centrelink or starting an application online. This quiz from Centrelink is also really great at being able to quickly summarise what benefits you’d potentially be eligible for.

      I hope this helps, and best of luck.

      Alexandra

  3. Default Gravatar
    IeshaMarch 25, 2020

    Hi Alexandra,

    I just wanted to ask if individuals were eligible for Job Seeker Allowances if they were still somewhat employed by their companies?

    My sister is 19 and currently works as a casual, her hours have been significantly reduced. I’m a permanent full-time worker ( 22 y/o) and have been placed on indefinite unpaid leave since yesterday, are we able to receive any financial support if we aren’t living at home and are renting?

    Any assistance would help greatly! Thank you.

    Kind regards,
    Iesha

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      AlexandraMarch 26, 2020Staff

      Hi Iesha,

      If you’re both earning under $1,086 a fortnight, then you may be eligible for payments. Your sister would be looking at Youth Allowance as she’s 19, and you’ll be looking at Jobseeker. Both are pretty similar payments with a few slight differences.

      Your sister will just need to prove that she’s financially independent – which you should be able to do through her work history and that she isn’t living at home.

      On top of this, if you’ve found that your shifts have been significantly cut then you may also be eligible for the Coronavirus Supplement which is an additional $550 a fortnight. This payment will be paid automatically to those already on welfare benefits. For this one, it doesn’t matter how much you’re earning now – as long as you’re already on Jobseeker/Youth Allowance then you’ll be paid out.

      I’d recommend you both to get in touch with Centrelink soon. You can start your applications online, and if you’re approved your Jobseeker/Youth Allowance payments will be backdated to when you first started your application – so jump on it soon!

      I hope this helps, and best of luck with your applications.

      Alexandra

  4. Default Gravatar
    LyndaMarch 25, 2020

    I’m currently on maternity leave, so technically still employed, my partner is a casual worker, soon to loose his job. Are we entitled to any Coronavirus payments?
    It’s all very confusing.

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      AlexandraMarch 26, 2020Staff

      Hi Lynda,

      You’re right – it’s very confusing! Hopefully I can help.

      As you’re on maternity leave you might not be entitled to any payments until this runs out. Your partner may be eligible for payments depending on how much you’re being paid out for your maternity leave.

      Currently, Jobseeker payments let couples earn $993.50 a fortnight before their payments may be cut. If you’re earning more than this, they still may be eligible for payments – it’ll just be a smaller amount.

      If they are approved for Jobseeker support, your partner might automatically be eligible for the $550/fortnight coronavirus supplement – if so, this will be deposited into your account automatically.

      I’d recommend getting in touch directly with Centrelink, or starting your application online. You can also take the Centrelink payments quiz which will give you a rough idea of what you’re entitled to.

      I hope this helps you, and best of luck.

      Alexandra

  5. Default Gravatar
    TanMarch 25, 2020

    My husband is still employed buy i was casual and have been stood down coronavirus . We have two kids am i entitled to any payments

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      AlexandraMarch 26, 2020Staff

      Hi Tan,

      If you’ve found that you’ve lost your income due to coronavirus you might be eligible for Jobseeker payments. This is income tested so will still depend on your husbands income, where he can earn $993.50 a fortnight before your payments might be taken down.

      You might also be eligible for family payments as you’ve got children.

      I’d recommend getting in touch directly with Centrelink, or starting your application online. You can also take the Centrelink payments quiz which will give you a rough idea of what you’re entitled to.

      Best of luck – and let me know if you’ve got any other questions.

      Alexandra

  6. Default Gravatar
    JimmyMarch 25, 2020

    A causal worker works 5 days a week reduced to 2 days, no leave or holiday entitlement, hasn’t has any payment or CRN from centrelink. Can he has any assistance from the government? If yes, what should we start to doing now?
    Thank you
    Jimmy

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      AlexandraMarch 26, 2020Staff

      Hi Jimmy!

      Sorry to hear you’re having a bit of a rough time.

      Depending on your age, you might be eligible for Youth Allowance or the Jobseeker payment if you’re a casual worker earning less than $1,075 as a result of the economic downturn.

      If you’re on one of these payments, you should also receive an additional $550 through the coronavirus supplement which will be automatically applied.

      I’d recommend you start your application online as soon as possible, as your Jobseeker/Youth Allowance payments will be back paid to the date you first began your application.

      Best of luck,
      Alexandra

  7. Default Gravatar
    TimMarch 25, 2020

    Hi Alexandra, I’m currently 20 years of age working as a casual, and I’ve been told my hours will be going down, and I have not lived with my parents for over a year,
    but I’ve been on centrelink to attempt to make a claim for the 550 top up a fortnight, but it says inelligable as soon as I say I’m not unemployed, so do you know how to access this top up? Or if I’m even eligible? Thanks

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      AlexandraMarch 26, 2020Staff

      Hi Tim,

      Sorry about your situation.

      The Coronavirus Supplement is available only to welfare recipients, which is probably why you’re getting rejected. But that doesn’t mean you’re not eligible for any help. You might actually be able to get the Youth Allowance payment if you’re a casual worker earning less than $1,075 as a result of the economic downturn.

      From there, if you’re approved for the Youth Allowance payment then the coronavirus supplement will automatically be applied if you’re eligible.

      I hope this helps, and let me know if you’ve got any other questions.

      Best of luck,
      Alexandra

  8. Default Gravatar
    markMarch 24, 2020

    if i have been laid off as for the Virus and my partner earns 52k a year and we do get family benfits, are we able to get the $550 a fortnight on top of family Benfit

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      AlexandraMarch 24, 2020Staff

      Hi Mark!

      Sorry to hear you’re going through such tough times.

      If you’re already on family benefits from the government, you might be able to access the additional $550 Coronavirus Supplement depending on what payments you’re on. It’s available for those on the Parenting Payment (both single & partnered).

      You might also be eligible for the $750 payments, which will be made on 31 March.

      In either case, both of these payments will be automatically applied if you’re eligible.

      I’d also consider getting in contact with Centrelink as you might be eligible for the Jobseeker payment as you’ve lost out on work because of coronavirus, which could give you an extra $500-$600 a fortnight.

      As you’ve already got an account, you might be able to do all of this online. I’d recommend trying to get this set up as soon as possible, as you’ll be backdated from when you’ve first submitted your application.

      Best of luck, Mark.

      Stay safe,
      Alexandra

  9. Default Gravatar
    lanaMarch 23, 2020

    if you lose your job as a casual employee can you apply for the job seeker allowance because of the covid 19 . If so do you have to attend a centre link office or can it be done on line

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      AlexandraMarch 24, 2020Staff

      Hi Lana!

      If you’ve already got an existing Centrelink or MyGov account, you might be able to manage doing a majority of your application online. If you don’t, you might have to head into a centre to verify your identity.

      In either case, I’d recommend starting your application online – Centrelink will then guide you and let you know if you need to come in face-to-face.

      Best of luck.

      Alexandra

  10. Default Gravatar
    WillMarch 23, 2020

    Hi, I was wondering if you knew anything about the centrelink support payments for casual workers. I am 20 and work at Target and have had my hours cut to approximately 10 hours a fortnight. I saw that I won’t be eligible for JobSeeker because I am under 22, but I don’t think I would be eligible for Youth Allowance because of my parents income. Does this mean I won’t be able to access any financial support? I have scoured the Department of Human Services website and cannot find the information. Any insight you might have would be amazing.
    Thank you,
    Will

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      AlexandraMarch 24, 2020Staff

      Hi Will!

      Thanks for the comment. I’m sorry to hear that you’re having such a rough time.

      You might still be eligible for Youth Allowance if you can prove that you’re independent in the eyes of Centrelink. That basically means that if you can prove that you’ve supported yourself through full-time paid work (30 hours a week) for the last 18 months, then you might be eligible for payments.

      If you’re not classified as independent, you’re right – you’ll need to be assessed based on your parent’s income. Your parents can have a combined parental income of $160,000 per year. Any less than that and you might be eligible for payments.

      I’d get in touch with Centrelink just in case and see if they can help you out. You can also take this Centrelink quiz which will be able to give you a rough idea of what you’re entitled to.

      I hope that helps.

      Best of luck,
      Alexandra

Ask a question
Go to site