What support is available to you as a small business or employee?
In such uncertain times, it is easy to get caught in a state of (mis)information overload. Picking through what’s relevant, what’s current and what’s hype is a difficult process, adding to what is already a difficult time.
It’s stressful and it’s overwhelming.
At Platinum People Group, we hear you. As a small business ourselves we understand too well the chaos that is our current world and the confusion it can leave business owners and their employees in.
We recognise that our job is to support you, our valued clients and candidates. In these times more so than ever, we strive to continue doing just that, in whatever way we can. So we’ve set out to unjumble the mess and bring to you the facts. Listing what other supports or services are available to you at this time and how best to navigate your way through.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.
Remember we are here to help and are only ever a call (zoom, text, dm or email) away!
Navigating in a Crisis
Key Tips, facts and Resources
Globally we are currently facing a health crisis that has significantly impacted not only our economy but our way of life.
It is an unfamiliar terrain and the resulting consequences for many businesses and individuals are nothing short of tragic. It’s a scary situation (no doubt) but one we are all in together.
Together we will navigate our way and unite to come out strong on the other side.
Information, announcements and all sorts of stimulus packages etc are being released in support. It’s information overload and it’s all happening fast. The amount of material to process and understand is as daunting as the situation itself and it can be hard to know where to begin.
As ‘Factor One’ so perfectly summarised – “The cost of the packages is massive, the need is great, the legislative drafting task is complex, the timeframe for rollout is short, and there will no doubt be challenges in implementation.”
In response, we’ve summarised the below information to try ease the process and clarify the information. It may at first seem a daunting list in itself, but bear with us as we present we believe to be an invaluable resource list at this time.
The following are some key tips & facts from our advisors:
- Do not rush – Sit down with your team, your financial advisors, mentors and alike to discuss your plan of action. In times of crisis, a clear head and a firm direction will make a world of difference.
Note:There is no need to rush lodging the March 2020 BAS. The ATO has made it clear that the PAYG Cash Boost will not be processed until the earliest of 28th of April 2020. Now it is more important than ever to get this right. If you have always done your own BAS but are not sure what you should be doing given the circumstances, talk to a professional first.
- JobKeeper – You may have received a lot of enquiries from your employees already as details were finalised. Please see our JobKeeper Payment section below for further information on the what, who and how.
- Cash Flow – If you have not already, start talking to your bank, mortgage broker or your financial advisors if you need assistance with loan or ATO deferral of payments etc.
- Tax Planning – To be read in conjunction with point 1 – tax planning this year will be crucial to ensure you receive all the available benefits. Please note: ATO has made it clear that the PAYG Cash Boost will not be processed until the earliest of 28th of April 2020.
- Payroll Tax – Work out with your financial advisors how you apply for any payroll tax relief. Each state is different – in Victoria, for example, you just need to apply for the refund on the SRO site and make sure you have updated bank details recorded.
Supporting businesses to retain jobs and stay in business
Current economic circumstances are causing devastating ripple effects and challenges for many businesses. With many businesses struggling to stay afloat and to retain their employees.
For these businesses, the JopKeeper Payment has been made available as of March 30th 2020.
Under the JobKeeper Payment, businesses significantly impacted by the Coronavirus outbreak will be able to access a subsidy from the Government to continue paying their employees.
This assistance will help businesses to keep people in their jobs and re-start when the crisis is over.
For employees, this means you can keep your job and earn an income – even if your hours have been cut or reduced.
JobKeeper Payment Key Facts
- It is worth up to $1500 a fortnight, per employee
- Sole traders are eligible
- To be eligible, the turnover of a business will need to have fallen by 30% or more, or in the case of a business with an annual turnover of more than $1 billion, by 50% or more. This is to be measured over a MINIMUM one-month period to a comparable period a year ago
- If an employee earns less than the $1,500, the government will effectively be subsidising their entire wage
- If an employee earns over that, the employer will have to top it up to a maximum of $1,5000
- Employee has to have been employed on March 1, 2020, to be eligible (even if stood down since that time)
- The government will backdate payments to 30th March 2020 – payments to be released from early May
- New Zealanders on the 444 visa will be included
- It does not include superannuation
For more information on the Government retainment measures please see the following:
The JobKeeper Payment will be delivered through existing systems at the ATO – you can apply here https://www.ato.gov.au/general/gen/JobKeeper-payment/
Tax Relief (VIC)
Measures for Victoria’s State of Emergency in response to COVID-19
In response to COVID-19, the Victorian Government has recently announced tax measures to support businesses through Victoria’s State of Emergency. This is part of a broader economic survival package, which includes:
- Payroll tax waived in 2019-20 for eligible businesses with taxable wages up to $3 million.
- 2020 renewable liquor licence fees waived.
- 2020 land tax-deferred for people that have at least one non-residential property and total taxable landholdings below $1 million.
Please see here for more details and FAQs surrounding the offered tax relief.
Businesses across the state can now also access information on dealing with COVID-19 by calling the Business Victoria hotline on 13 22 15.
Small Business Grants (VIC)
As part of the economic support packages that are now coming through for businesses, a selection of grants is available for application. These grants are aimed at helping small businesses survive the impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and keep people in work.
Business Support Fund – Business Victoria
The Victorian Government has launched the $500 million Business Support Fund to help small businesses in their time of need. Funding of $10,000 per business is available and will be allocated through a grant process to those eligible.
Small businesses are eligible if they:
- employ staff
- have been subject to closure or are highly impacted by Victoria’s Non-Essential Activity Directions issued by the Deputy Chief Health Officer to-date
- have a turnover of more than $75,000
- have payroll of less than $650,000.
More details about eligibility, guidelines and how to apply – here.
COVID-19 (Quick Response) business grants – City of Melbourne
As part of ‘City of Melbourne’s economic support package for city businesses, they’re offering $5 million in grants for small to medium-sized businesses and non-profit organisations to invest further professional development at this time. Businesses must be located within the City of Melbourne municipality to be eligible.
- Up to $5000 for investing in online and e-commerce activities.
- Up to $2000 for training and professional development.
- Up to $10,000 for capital works projects (matching dollar-for-dollar) to adapt to changing conditions.
For further details on the grants available, guidelines and application process, please see here.
Fair Work Act
Important things you should know
These times are tough for all.
Many businesses will, unfortunately, be faced with difficult staffing decisions that may be due to government restrictions or operational challenges. As a result, during this period, many employees will be stood down (meaning they will remain employed without pay). It is important to understand what this means, who it may impact and why.
Under the Fair Work Act, an employee can only be stood down without pay if they cannot be usefully employed because of a stoppage of work for any cause for which the employer cannot reasonably be held responsible.
Whether standing down employees is an available option in circumstances relating to coronavirus is very fact dependent and businesses should exercise the option cautiously.
For an employee to be stood down, the employer must be able to demonstrate that:
- there is a stoppage of work
- the employees to be stood down cannot be usefully employed (which is not limited to the work an employee usually performs)
- the cause of the stoppage must also be one that the employer cannot reasonably be held responsible for.
If an employer unlawfully stands down employees without pay, the employees will likely be able to recover unpaid wages.
During these unprecedented times, communication and correct/up-to-date information are key. Please make sure whether you are an employer or employee that you check all available resources to determine what applies to you and how best to move forward.
Some examples of when employers may be able to stand down employees include:
- if there was an enforceable government direction requiring the business to close (which means there is no work at all for the employees to do, even from another location)
- if a large proportion of the workforce was required to self-quarantine with the result that the remaining employees/workforce cannot usefully be employed
- if there was a stoppage of work due to lack of supply for which the employer could not be held responsible.
Please note this is not an exhaustive list.
Other options that an employer may consider instead of stand down include:
- seeking employees’ agreement to take paid (or unpaid) leave for a period
- in limited circumstances, directing employees to take paid annual leave
- in limited circumstances, negotiating with employees to change regular rosters or hours of work
- terminating the employment of the employees, in which case the employer may have to provide redundancy pay.
For more information on Fair Work laws applicable during the COVID-19 crisis please head to Coronavirus and Australian workplace laws – Fair Work
If you need advice about your current professional circumstance and think we would be able to assist – please reach out to our team! We’d love to discuss your options with you and connect you with exciting opportunities.