In late March, the Woolworths-owned Australian Leisure and Hospitality Group stood down 8000 workers following the government’s decision to shut pubs and clubs to halt the spread of the coronavirus.
But despite essentially stopping trade, ALH will not be eligible for JobKeeper because of an unfortunately timed restructure that pulled the pubs under the same corporate Endeavour Group as prosperous drinks businesses Dan Murphy’s and BWS.
Woolworths put ALH under the Endeavour banner in January, long before the pandemic upended Australian life, in preparation for a massive $10 billion de-merger, which it has since had to delay.
A spokesperson for ALH confirmed despite the company asking the government to be included in the JobKeeper program, “under the current legislation we don’t qualify”.
Companies with over $1 billion in annual revenue need to show a 50 per cent downturn before they can get the wage subsidy, but for the purposes of JobKeeper, ALH can’t be separated from the entire Endeavour Group, which has not seen revenue decline sufficiently.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said this week big businesses faced more hurdles to get JobKeeper because they had greater financial resources.
Smaller businesses have a different level of capability and a higher level of vulnerability in dealing with the significant cash flow issues,” Mr Morrison said. “I mean, it’s like comparing Qantas to a corner shop.”