Weekly Digest – 1 April 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic deepens its hold across the country, governments and industry leaders are stepping up to help those impacted. To help you make sense of the barrage of information out there, we’ve put together a summary of helpful resources.

3rd stimulus announced for ‘job keeper payment

The Morrison Government announced a 3rd stimulus package on Monday 30th March, aimed at helping businesses keep their staff. The $1500 per fortnight flat payment will be a lifeline to businesses and employees during this staff.

Below is a quick summary of what’s included, but we also have a longer article as well.

  • The ‘job keeper’ payment is available to employers and sole traders who can prove they have lost 30% of income.
  • Eligible businesses can apply for the $1500 ‘job keeper’ flat payment to keep paying their staff.
  • Workers who have already been stood down will be able to access the payment if they lost their job after March 1.
  • All full time and part time staff are all eligible. Casuals who worked for more than 12 months at the business are also eligible.

Employers are encouraged to keep paying their employees, with the understanding the government will reimburse them $1500 per fortnight per employee, backdated to 30th March 2020. The payments will flow from May.

Eligible businesses can register their interest here.

Economic hibernation considered

The government is considering an economic ‘hibernation’ for businesses by providing rent, mortgage and energy relief as part of a third stimulus package.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is working with energy companies to safeguard householders and small businesses during the COVID-19 crisis. He stresses that the electricity and gas providers are an essential service and “have an obligation to support customers through these difficult times.”

The federal government will also be turning to the banks to waive mortgage payments for the next 6 months to offer further relief to those impacted by the shutdown.

There are now only 4 reasons to leave your house

Outdoor gatherings have been limited to 2 people as of 29 March. You can get the latest info from the Department of Health here.
The instruction is very clear to “stay at home”. You are allowed to leave your house for these 4 reasons only:

  • Shopping for essentials
  • Receiving medical care
  • Exercising (by yourself or with one other person)
  • Travelling to work or education (only if unable to do so at home)

Support for businesses

The Australian Government Business website has information on the measures available to various businesses (eg sole traders, employers, companies). Check it out here.

Fair Work has amended the Clerks Award during coronavirus

On 28th March 2020 the Fair Work Commission made a determination varying the Clerks Award. Here’s a few things it covers:

Minimum engagement/pay for part-time and casual employees working from home

Part-time employees who have agreed with their employer to work from home can have their minimum engagement reduced from 3 hours per shift to 2 hours per shift. Casual employees who have agreed with their employer to work from home must be paid for a minimum of 2 hours’ work per shift (rather than 3).

Annual leave and close down of business

Employers can direct an employee to take annual leave by giving their employees at least 1 week’s notice (or any shorter period of notice that is agreed).

If the annual leave is because the business is closing down for a period due to coronavirus and an employee doesn’t have enough paid annual leave to cover the whole period, the employer can direct them to take unpaid leave.

There are more details available here.

Report your self-isolation

If you are in self-isolation because you are confirmed or suspected to have Coronavirus, the government requests you complete this form.

Time for some good news

China is reporting a significant reduction in new cases. This week, Hubei province opened transportation connections back up to Wuhan, with further controls to be lifted throughout the region.

The collective pause that we’re having (even though it’s forced) might be a pause for good. The slowdown in production and transportation is creating a huge reduction in pollution levels. Reports seem to indicate that China’s lockdown led to a 25% decrease in CO2 emissions when compared with the same period in 2019.

On Thursday night at 8pm, after coordinated efforts on social media, the UK stopped to go outside and applaud all NHS staff and carers bravely fighting the disease on the front line.

While social media can be overloaded at times, there are many lovely videos surfacing from Italy, Spain and other countries around the world where people are making the most of the lockdown.

Here to help

As always, we’re wishing you all the best. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We are all in this together!

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