Bunnings owner won’t rule out using $4b JobMaker scheme

The parent company of hardware chain Bunnings has not ruled out using the government’s $4 billion JobMaker scheme after Woolworths said it would opt out of the subsidy because of the supermarket’s bumper sales.

Retail conglomerate Wesfarmers, which owns popular chains such as Bunnings, Kmart, Officeworks and Target, said it would review its potential use of the scheme. The ASX-listed $54 billion retailer has been a major beneficiary of COVID-19, with its sales jumping 10.5 per cent to $30.8 billion in the last financial year.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for the retailer said it would assess how JobMaker could be used in its businesses over the next 12 months as the economy recovers, flagging “continuing uncertainty” due to COVID-19.

Wesfarmers, which owns Bunnings, has said its opportunity to claim the $4 billion JobMaker scheme was "limited".
Wesfarmers, which owns Bunnings, has said its opportunity to claim the $4 billion JobMaker scheme was “limited”.Credit:Jonas Haag

“While the circumstances in which our businesses would access the program are likely to be limited, we are always looking to create jobs for young people, especially in our retail businesses,” a spokeswoman for the retail group said.


“If there is a role for JobMaker in supporting the employment of more young people without disadvantaging existing employees, then we will look carefully at it.”

Wesfarmers is the country’s third-largest private employer, with about 107,000 staff across its businesses. The JobMaker scheme was a key pillar of last week’s federal budget and offers employers between $100 and $200 a week for hiring new staff between the ages of 16 and 35, given they work an average of 20 hours per week and are already claiming JobSeeker.

Wesfarmers said it was a good initiative and would accelerate employment opportunities for younger people, however, the business said it would continue to employ based on merit and planned to hire more staff in the lead-up to Christmas “independent of JobMaker”.

On Thursday Woolworths, the country’s largest private employer, said it would opt out of the recently unveiled hiring subsidy as it believed it would be inappropriate to claim it given the supermarket’s bumper sales.

The supermarket’s unexpected stance has prompted other major employers to consider if they will sign on to the subsidy. National pizza chain Domino’s confirmed it would not accept JobMaker for its 119 corporate stores or its head office.

However, the chain’s franchisees will be able make decisions on their own circumstances, a spokeswoman said. Similarly, a spokeswoman for national electronics chain Harvey Norman said it would be a matter for each franchisee.

A spokesman for fast-food chain McDonalds, a major employer of young people, said it intended to use the scheme but was still determining how it would be used. Many of its Christmas casual hires are unlikely to be eligible for the scheme.

“Initiatives supportive of enabling young people to take on their first job with McDonald’s and receive high quality registered training and obtain skills for life is definitely in the long-term interests of the economy,” the spokesman said.

“Many of our new hires during the summer months are often young, casual, still living at home and therefore unlikely to be eligible under the terms of the wage subsidy initiative.”

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Source: Thanks smh.com