The Australian government grants system is a generous one that is aimed at increasing economic activity, especially in small and medium-sized businesses.

A business is, first and foremost, made up of people. Your team needs to grow if the business is to grow and this is why you should look into employment grants.

Financial incentives are available to encourage businesses to not only retain existing employees but also to hire new ones to foster growth.

The Department of Industry Innovation and Science is a great place to start to see whether your business could qualify for government grants to employ people or even engage consultants – provided it is linked to business growth.

The last count on the government grants webpage showed that there were 82 different grant schemes. Some are restricted to particular states or territories, while others are quite specific, ranging from employing long-term unemployed to providing pay for reservists who may be called up to serve on active duty.

You can find the full list of grants available on this website, but we are going to concentrate on a few of the most advantageous ones.


The Wage Subsidies government grants programme

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The Department of Jobs and Small businesses lists two broad categories of employment grants under the Wage Subsidies programme.

Who qualifies?

As an employer, you can access a wage subsidy if you:

  • have an Australian Business number
  • have not previously received a wage subsidy for the same person
  • are not an Australian, state or territory government agency
  • offer a job that is expected to be ongoing and for an average of 20 hours per week over the six months of the wage subsidy agreement
  • offer a job that complies with employment standards for the position – for example, is suitable work and pays as a minimum the national award wage.


Are there any criteria for eligible employees?

Up to $10,000 (GST inclusive) is available for new employees who are:

  • between 15 and 25 years of age;
  • Indigenous Australians; or
  • 50 years of age and over.

Up to $6,500 (GST inclusive) is available for new employees who are:

  • between 25 and 29 years of age;
  • parents; or
  • individuals who are registered with an employment services provider for 12 months or more.

Some jobs are not eligible for a wage subsidy, including:

  • work that displaces an existing employee
  • commission-based, subcontracting or self-employment positions and
  • work for an immediate family member.

For the employer to receive a wage subsidy the new employee must be registered with an employment services provider (either jobactive, Transition to Work, Disability Employment Services or the Community Development Programme) for six months or more. Other eligibility requirements also apply based on the individual’s circumstances – talk to an employment services provider to find out more.


How does it work?

Payments are made by employment services providers to businesses over six months. Employers can negotiate how often they are made – for example weekly or fortnightly. There is also a kickstart payment option of up to 40 percent of the total amount after four weeks of the job starting.

Apprenticeships and traineeships are also eligible for a wage subsidy along with other financial incentives available to employers under the Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Program.


Business Growth government grants

government grantsBusiness Growth Grants are one of the services of the Entrepreneurs’ Programme. You can use a Business Growth Grant to engage external expertise to help your businesses implement improvements through:

  • Business Growth Grant reimburses businesses for up to half of the cost of engaging a service provider, to a maximum of $20,000 (excluding GST). This funding supports business improvement projects.

The grant supports strategies that improve the abilities and skills of your business. It doesn’t support fixes for problems that are part of the ordinary, everyday operations of your business.


To be eligible for a Business Growth Grant, you must:
  • have received an Entrepreneurs’ Programme Business Evaluation Action Plan, Supplier Improvement Plan, Growth Plan, or Tourism Partnership Plan
  • submit an application:
    • within 6 months of receiving a Business Evaluation Action Plan, Supplier Improvement Plan or Tourism Partnership Plan, or
    • within 12 months of receiving a Growth Plan.
  • be implementing strategies identified in a Business Evaluation Action Plan, Supplier Improvement Plan, Growth Plan or Tourism Partnership Plan, and
  • are able to fund the total value of project costs to engage the service provider before receiving the Grant.


Youth Jobs PaTH grants

Youth Jobs PaTH (Prepare – Trial – Hire) provides assistance and funding to trial a young person aged between 17 – 24 to find out if they’re the right fit for your business. If the trial is a success and you hire the young person, you may be eligible for further funding.


How does it work?

Young people will undertake Employability Skills Training to prepare them for work.

You can trial a young person in an internship for between 4 and 12 weeks and receive a payment of $1000 (GST inclusive) to help cover the hosting costs. Interns will receive a $200 fortnightly incentive payment on top of their income support and are covered by insurance, both paid by the Australian Government.

If you hire an eligible young person, you can receive a wage subsidy of up to $10,000 (GST inclusive).


Who can apply?

All businesses in Australia can apply. To be eligible to host a trial, your business must have a reasonable prospect of employment for the young person following the trial period.

This means you either have:

  • a vacancy that needs filling
  • you will likely have a vacancy following the trial or
  • you have a regular pattern of recruitment.

Your business cannot displace existing workers or reduce an existing employee’s hours of work to make way for a trial candidate.


See if there are specific government grants which you are eligible for

We have covered some of the major employment grants in this article, but there are dozens of industry-specific ones available. To see whether you can find one to help you build your team, visit the government’s employment grants webpage for more information. 

You can also read another of our blogs about grants for businesses here.