The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) Kate Carnell says many small business owners are struggling to keep staff on as they feel the impact of JobKeeper cuts. “While some small businesses are doing well, there are a significant proportion of small businesses that are still doing it tough,” Ms Carnell says. “JobKeeper was reduced again on 4 January 2021, and with some eligible businesses unable to afford to top up wages, they are having to reduce the hours of their staff. It means staff are resigning to go to jobs offering more hours and pay.”

Ms Carnell says while the JobKeeper program was originally designed to allow businesses to keep their existing staff, the economic recovery is presenting new challenges for some small businesses, including salons.

“Under JobKeeper rules, eligible businesses cannot replace their staff with a new staff member and still attract the government payment. Unfortunately this rule has the unintended consequence of increasing the divide between the haves and have nots in the small business sector.

Ms Carnell says the adjustments have really hit already-struggling businesses in a big way. “It’s imperative that the government changes JobKeeper so that small businesses that have been hit hardest by the COVID crisis can replace their staff to help them get their businesses back up-and-running. Our national economic recovery will be driven by jobs growth and that’s why it’s critical to support small business employers during this difficult time to allow them to survive, grow and hire in the future.”

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