Bosses offered $12,000 incentives to hire long-term unemployed

The Sydney Morning Herald

Businesses hiring long-term unemployed people will be able to claim $12,000 incentive payments from the state government under a dramatically expanded jobs scheme.

The huge expansion of Labor’s flagship Back to Work Scheme follows concern that the state economy has been failing to create full-time positions. It also follows new figures released on Thursday showing a steep 12 per cent drop in the number of students in subsidised training during the first half 2015 compared to the first half of 2014.

Under the overhaul, announced by Treasurer Tim Pallas, the payment for business hiring and training young unemployed and retrenched workers will be lifted from $1000 to $5000. But the biggest incentives will apply to businesses hiring the long-term unemployed, with the payment set to rise from $2000 to $12,000.

In another generous concession, the definition of long-term unemployed will be relaxed from 52 weeks without work to 26 weeks, making it easily for bosses to get the $12,000 payment.

Employers will also be able to claim payments of up to $4000 to train new workers. Eligibility for the scheme will also be expanded. In addition to applying to the long-term unemployed, young people and recently retrenched people, the scheme will now also be open to refugees, sole parents, pensioners, disability pensioners, Aboriginal unemployed and drought-affected households.

Labor came to power promising to create 100,000 full-time position in two years. The promise was underpinned by a $100 million jobs fund offering incentive payments to bosses who hire young, old or retrenched workers.

The scheme’s expansion follows some concerns it could be rorted, with employers able to access the money if they can prove a minimum three-month employment period. This has sparked warnings some bosses might qualify several times by placing workers on fixed contracts and then rehiring.

“The increased incentive for employers to employ more people … we think that will make a difference,” Mr Stone said.

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