Our ‘New Normal’ – Adapt and Thrive
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it looks like our ‘new normal’ will continue to involve regular upheaval and changes, shifting sands and altering conditions.On 23 July 2020 the Government updated its Economic and Fiscal Outlook, and in our weekly webinar I did a deep dive into what it means for regionally-based small to medium sized business and not for profit organisations. For the key summary points, please see below or catch up with the webinar.
If you’re unsure what funding, subsidies and grants you might be eligible for, or how to implement them effectively in your business, get in touch – Pinnacle People Solutions is here to help you and your business adapt and thrive.
CEO, Pinnacle People Solutions
Economic & Fiscal Outlook – Key Summary for Employers
JobKeeper has been extended to 28 March 2021, in a modified format.
The extension of JobKeeper means that changes to the Fair Work Act will also extend to 28 March 2021. This means that if you have JobKeeper enabling directions in place, or wish to make such directions, you can continue to do so until 28 March 2021.
For employees who worked more than 20 hours a week as at 1 March 2020, from 28 September 2020, payments will drop to $1,200 per fortnight. From 4 January 2021, payments will drop to $1,000 per fortnight,
For employees who worked less than 20 hours per week as at 1 March 2020, from 28 September 2020 payments will drop to $750 per fortnight. From 4 January 2021, payments will drop to $650 per fortnight.
Payments will continue to be made in arrears; this means you need to continue paying your staff upfront, and you’ll be reimbursed through the tax system on a monthly basis.
From 28 September, businesses and not for profits will be required to reassess their eligibility for the subsidy by reference to their actual June and September quarter turnovers to demonstrate they have suffered an ongoing significant decline in turnover.
To be eligible, employers must have a turnover of 30-50% (depending on whether turnover is less or more than $1billion). Charities must show a 15% shortfall.
These new eligibility requirements only apply after 28 September 2020.
Employers not currently receiving JobKeeper can still apply, if they meet eligibility requirements including turnover and having eligible employees as at 1 March 2020.
There continue to be alternative tests available for employers who cannot meet the standard tests, and more details about these alternatives can be found here: https://www.ato.gov.au/General/JobKeeper-Payment/In-detail/JobKeeper-tests/Applying-the-turnover-test/?page=4
For further information: https://treasury.gov.au/coronavirus/jobkeeper/extension
The new JobTrainer package includes a $1billion fund to support 340,700 new training places across Australia, giving trainees access to new skills by upskilling and retraining them for sectors with increased job opportunities.
The funding will be available for nationally accredited qualifications and skillsets that are identified as ‘genuine need’ by the National Skills Commission.
The other half the JobTrainer package is the extension of the Supporting Apprentices and Trainees wage subsidy to help employers keep their apprentices and trainees in work. The wage subsidy covers 50% of wages paid to apprentices and trainees, up to $7,000 per quarter. Eligibility is extended to businesses with up to 199 employees, but the apprentice or trainee will need to be in place from 1 July 2020 to be eligible. Larger employers and Group Training Organisations that re-engage out of trade apprentice or trainees are also eligible.
The wage subsidy cannot be claimed for the same employees who are receiving JobKeeper; however, if a business stops receiving JobKeeper, it will then be eligible to apply for the subsidy as long as the eligibility criteria is met.
For further information: https://treasury.gov.au/coronavirus/businesses/apprentices-and-trainees
Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme
This Scheme has been extended by the Government after 30 September 2020. Up to 30 September 2020, SMEs with a turnover of up to $50million can have 50% of their maximum $250,000 in unsecured loans guaranteed. Loans will be up to 3 years with an initial 6 month repayment holiday.
From 1 October 2020, this has been expanded to a maximum of $1million in loans repayable over 5 years, with the repayment holiday at the discretion of the lender. The loans can also be secured or unsecured.
The Government is encouraging lenders to approve loans as and when the SME needs it, with the idea being that they only incur interest on the amount they actually drawdown. This would give your business great flexibility and only interest charged on the money used.
If you are interested in applying, approach your financial institution first, and then look more broadly. 44 lenders have been approved by Treasury to offer this Scheme.
For further information: https://treasury.gov.au/coronavirus/sme-guarantee-scheme
From 24 September 2020, the Coronavirus Supplement, for those on an eligible income support payment, will be reduced to $250 per fortnight. It will cease to be paid on 1 January 2021.
Changes to eligibility
To be eligible for JobSeeker, a person needs to be a permanent employee stood down or unemployed, sole traders/self-employed/casuals/contractors who meet the relevant income test, or an eligible individual caring for someone affected by COVID-19. Most of the waiting periods will continue to be waived until 31 December 2020.
The income free area for JobSeeker Payment and Youth Allowance for jobseekers will increase significantly to $300 per fortnight. If you earn above this amount, your payment reduces by 60 cents for each dollar earned above this amount.
From 25 September 2020, means-testing and the Liquid Assets Waiting Period will resume.
The Partner Income Test will also change so that your payment will reduce by 27 cents for every dollar your partner earns over $1165 per fortnight.
Mutual obligation requirements
From 4 August, mutual obligation requirements will return gradually. This means that to continue receiving JobSeeker payments, recipients must actively look for work.
- Make sure you understand your obligations in relation to your staff, and are prepared for life in JobKeeper 2.0 and beyond.
- Keep records and put everything in writing – make sure you’re meeting your record-keeping obligations.
- Check all of your employment contracts, or put employment contracts in place. Go beyond the lawful requirements – check that you have good termination clauses, post-employment constraints, return of property requirements, debt settlement through termination pay, etc.
- Make sure that you have good, relevant policies on performance, conduct and redundancy.
- Deal with performance or conduct issues now and do so lawfully and to minimise your risk – the behaviour you walk past is the behaviour you accept.
Need help? Contact Pinnacle People Solutions for tailored advice and support for your business by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1300 856 231.
Implementing JobKeeper for the first time? We provide you with an initial assessment of your needs, ensure you have the essential policies and procedures in place, provide compliant template documents and general advice regarding staff contract / hours changes. Allowing you to minimise your upfront expenditure in these difficult times. Learn more.
JobKeeper Personalised Support
Designed for businesses who would like a greater level of support in successfully implementing the JobKeeper program within their organisation. We partner with you in the initial implementation so you can ensure you are meeting your obligations as an employer. Learn more.
JobKeeper End to End
Designed for businesses who are already preparing for the end of the JobKeeper program, we provide specific, tailored advice, support and documentation for your staff as your business returns to usual (or a new COVID normal) at the end of the JobKeeper period. Learn more.
New Staff Spotlight: Gina Mackenzie
Gina is the HR Officer for Pinnacle People Solutions, working across a range of areas including recruitment, business development and employment documentation. She previously worked for Healthshare NSW assisting in the management of over 180,000 employees, and gained experience across recruitment, HR consultancy and payroll processing.
Having grown up in regional NSW, Gina understands the importance of sustaining regional business and making a difference in her local community.
Employer Advisories for Regional Business
COVID-19 Weekly Update and Analysis – Monday 9.15am
Employer Advisory Webinar – Thursday 5.30pm
Join us on Facebook.
6/8/2020 – How do I cope with another lockdown? Presented by our Consultant Psychologist, Jessica Pearson
13/8/2020 – Managing Difficult Staff. Presented by our CEO, Bronwyn Pearson
20/8/2020 – Recruitment in a Regional Context: a Client Perspective. An interview with Richard Oates of Duffy’s Automotive Tamworth and BGs
Have a subject you want to learn more about? Let us know: email@example.com