The Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE) has commenced a new data matching program with the ATO in relation to the Supporting Apprentices and Trainees (SAT) measure. The objective of the program is to confirm that an employer is eligible to receive the SAT subsidy and validate information provided by the employer. It also seeks to confirm that employers are not claiming both the SAT and JobKeeper at the same time for the same employee.

To be eligible under SAT, an apprentice must have been in an Australian Apprenticeship with a small business as at 1 March 2020. The program has since been expanded to include medium-sized businesses who had an apprentice in place on 1 July 2020. Employers of any size who re-engage an eligible out of trade apprentice are also eligible to claim the SAT wage subsidy.

Eligible employers under SAT can apply for a wage subsidy of 50% of the apprentices’ or trainees’ wage paid until 31 March 2021.

It is estimated that data relating to around 117,000 apprentices and trainees and more than 70,000 employers will be transferred between DESE and the ATO. While the first data-matching activity is intended to be conducted as soon as possible, it is expected the program will be ongoing with data transfer to occur at regular intervals as required over the life of the measure.

DESE will first provide the ATO with information relating to employers and apprentices that have been extracted from their systems. The ATO will then match that information against their own data holdings and provide information on employers that claimed eligibility for SAT as a small business or claimed the SAT wage subsidy and the JobKeeper at the same time for the same individual.

To avoid mistakes, the ATO will be using sophisticated identity matching techniques which uses multiple details to obtain an identity match (eg name, address, date of birth). Additional manual processes may also be undertaken where a high confidence identity match does not occur. This involves an ATO officer reviewing and comparing third party data identity elements against ATO information on a one-on-one basis, seeking sufficient common indicators to allow confirmation (or not) of an individual’s or business’ identity.

DESE will then use the information sourced from the ATO to verify its own data holding, and a manual process will be undertaken by a DESE officer to compare the information. All discrepancies and anomalies will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

In instances where the DESE detects a discrepancy or an anomaly that requires verification, it will contact the business and provide them with an opportunity to verify the accuracy of the information on which the eligibility was based. According to the DESE, businesses will be given at least 28 days to respond and individual circumstances, if any, will be taken into consideration.