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COVID-19: State Governments, Fair Work & Australian Banking Association

Written by Sarah Pogson . March 23, 2020
11 min read

With new rules and restrictions in place, both Federal and State Governments are implementing packages with the intention to assist families and businesses during the expected tough months ahead as a result of the COVID-19 epidemic in Australia. Since 12 March 2020 the Federal Government has introduced two stimulus packages.

Below we will provide details on the recent measures introduced by the State Governments, the Australian Banking Association and Fair Work Australia, outlining what these measures mean for you and your business.

Contents

State Government Response – NSW

  • Payroll Tax Measures

    • Waiver of payroll tax – businesses with taxable wages of up to $10 million will have their payroll tax waived for the last quarter of the 2019-20 payroll tax year. Monthly lodgers will have their payroll tax waived for April, May & June. Annual lodgers will have their annual liability reduced by 25% when they lodge their annual payroll tax reconciliation.
    • Payroll Tax threshold increase brought forward – for the 2020-21 payroll tax year, the threshold has increased to $1 million, ahead of originally scheduled for the 2021-22 year.
    • More details in relation to the above payroll tax measures are available here.
  • Waiver of fees and charges - for eligible small businesses, including bars, cafes, restaurants and tradies. No further details have been made available on this measure at present.
  • More information on the current support from the NSW State Government is available here.

State Government Response – QLD

  • Concessional Loans of $250,000 – for eligible businesses, with an initial 12-month interest free period with the aim to assist with staff retention.
  • Deferred Payroll Tax Return Lodgements – businesses who have been impacted by COVID-19 can apply to have their payroll tax return lodgement due date deferred to 3 August 2020.
    See here for more details and here to apply for the deferral.
  • Support for Fisheries - Market Diversification and Resilience Grants (MDRG) program
    • Equipment Purchases - $7,500 grants (excluding GST) to support new equipment purchases up to a maximum cost of $10,000 (excluding GST). Businesses must contribute 25% of the total cost to new equipment. See here for more details and here for criteria and applications. No application close date, application are assessed on an ongoing basis.
    • Project Grants – up to $50,000 (excluding GST) to support project activities – e.g. staff training, new equipment such as refrigeration and boat modifications necessary to meet market requirements. Applications close 20 April 2020.
  • Fees Waived for specific Liquor Licence fees - application fees associated temporary change or permanent change of licence areas and temporary or permanent change of trading areas have been waived for 6 months (from 1 February 2020 to 31 July 2020).
    More information on the current support from the QLD State Government is available here.

State Government Response – VIC

Per the Victorian Premier’s media release, an “Economic Survival Package To Support Businesses And Jobs” is being introduced. This includes:

  • Payroll Tax Refunds for 2019-20 – for small and medium-sized businesses with payroll of less than $3 million.
  • Payroll Tax Deferrals – for small and medium-sized businesses, allowing July, August & September 2020 payroll tax until 1 January 2021.
  • Rent Relief for Government Buildings – commercial tenants in Government buildings can apply for rent relief.
  • 2020 Land Tax Payments Deferred – for eligible small businesses.
  • Liquor licensing Fees Waived – for affected venues and small businesses.
    More details regarding the measures intended to be introduced by Victorian State Government are available here.

State Government Response – ACT, NT, SA, TAS, & WA

Each state and territory has their own stimulus package they are expecting to introduce. See the below links for details on each state based on the current information available:

Australian Banking Association

The Australian Banking Association has announced that Australian Banks will support the small businesses of Australia through this tough period, with loan repayments being deferred for 6 months.  Most major banks have also passed on interest rate cuts to small business loans in line with the RBA cash rate cut by 0.25 basis points in the last week.

Home owners are will also receive support with most major banks introducing the following:

  • Loan repayments put on hold for six months
  • Interest rate cuts – both fixed and variable rates

We suggest you contact your bank to see how these measures apply to your personal loans and/or your business loans. With the RBA cutting the cash rate again by 0.25 basis points in the last week, the large banks in Australia have followed suit and continue to implement further changes with continued slashing of interest rates and repayments for certain loans put on hold. It is best to contact your bank during these times and understand how they can help both your personal and business circumstances.

Fair Work Australia – Guidelines, Entitlements & Obligations

Fair Work Australia has cleared up some of the confusion for employers in Australia, outlining workplace entitlements and obligations should your business or your employees be impacted or threatened by a COVID-19 outbreak.

The Fair Work Australia website provides several FAQs and examples which are being updated on a regular basis as more information becomes available.

Below are examples of the questions answered on Fair Work Australia’s website:

  • What if an employee is stuck overseas or is required to be quarantined or to self-isolate? Are you required to pay them?
  • What if an employer needs to let employees go?
  • What if an employer wants their employees to stay home as a precaution?
  • What happens if an employee or their family member is sick with coronavirus?
  • What if an employee cannot attend work because their child’s school has closed due to concerns about coronavirus?
  • Can employees be directed not to travel?
  • When can employees work from home? Do they take some form of leave?

The above is not an exhaustive list of the questions answered on the Fair Work Australia website – the full list is available here.

The response to COVID-19 is ever changing, with increased support from both Federal and State Governments, Banks and Fair Work Australia.  Being equipped with the most up-to-date information is beneficial to ensure you are making the right decision for any required or unforeseen changes for you and your business.

We will continue to keep you updated on the current measures available for you and your business as more information is made available.

If you would like to discuss any of these measures and what they mean for you and your business, our team is available to assist you. Please don't hesitate to talk with us on (02) 4229 2211 or you can send us your inquiry online.

*The above information was correct at the time of publishing and subject to change*
Written by Sarah Pogson . March 23, 2020
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