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Government steps up with industry wage subsidy

Hotel staff will feel more secure in their jobs during the downturn, with a more secure income.

Tens of thousands of hospitality workers across the nation are expected to retain a modest income and stay on their employer’s books as a result of the Australian Government’s new fortnightly wage subsidy announced yesterday.

The latest round of government economic stimulus in response to the ongoing threat of COVID-19 saw Prime Minister Scott Morrison commit a fortnightly wage of $1,500 per person to be paid to workers via their businesses in an effort to avoid continued mass redundancies.

Overall, the government plan, which will last for six months, is expected to help to keep more than six million Australians in work and away from unemployment queues. The subsidy applies to full-time, part-time, sole traders and casual employees who have been on their employer’s books for at least one year.

Workers stood down since 1 March will be able to access the payment on a back-dated basis, with the first monies set to flow from the beginning of May.

Accommodation Association CEO, Dean Long, said the government’s health measures to contain the pandemic had hit the hospitality and tourism sector hard, with forward occupancies lucky to reach 10% and revenues down by more than half. He added the Association welcomed the latest stimulus and that employers would feel a sense of relief and certainty during periods of no demand.

“This wage subsidy provides essential support for employers as they seek to retain jobs and ensure their businesses are operational once Australia emerges from this pandemic.

“In particular, we welcome the application to all employees and business, irrespective of turnover. The key criteria is the loss of turnover.”

Long added the subsidy would benefit an industry which directly employs more than 86,100 people.

Tourism Accommodation Australia National CEO, Michael Johnson, commended the government for the bold move which will help many retain their skilled workforces.

“At present, our industry is on its knees with current occupancy rates falling below 10 per cent, and many hotels being forced to close indefinitely. This new package will allow hotels to keep valuable employees engaged, off the Centrelink queues and preparing for recovery later this year.”

Australian Tourism Export Council MD, Peter Shelley, added his plaudits for the government’s plan, saying this was about keeping the knowledge and the skills of the tourism industry connected to ensure the economy’s recovery can be maximised.

“The Prime Minister’s program to ‘get us to the other side’ won’t protect every tourism job, but it will help support some of the businesses who can get our export industry back on its feet,” he said.

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