Covid Safe Plans, Pandemic Leave Disaster Payments & Tips to Adapt your Business

Welcome back to our Weekly Digest. We hope you and your family are safe and doing well. Read on for this week’s update.

Covid Safe Plans – Victorian Businesses

Every employer must complete their COVID Safe plan by 11.59pm on 7 August 2020

Your COVID Safe Plan must set out:

  • Your actions to help prevent the introduction of coronavirus (COVID-19) in your workplace
  • The level of face-covering or personal protective equipment (PPE) required for your workforce
  • How you will prepare for, and respond to, a suspected or confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19) in your workplace
  • This plan must demonstrate how you will meet all of the requirements set out by the Victorian Government. Some higher-risk industries or workplaces have additional requirements of employers and employees.

Use this COVID Safe Plan template and guidance to create your COVID Safe Plan.

Full details are on the Business Victoria Website

Support for Victorian businesses

As you have probably heard, the Victorian Government has announced updated restrictions for Melbourne and regional Victoria to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

  • Stage 4 restrictions started from 6pm on Sunday 2 August for metropolitan Melbourne.
  • Stage 3 restrictions are in place from 11:59pm on Wednesday 5 August for Regional Victoria, including Mitchell Shire.

These restrictions mean that many businesses will have to close or limit their operations.

To support businesses impacted by these restrictions, one-off grants are available to eligible businesses under the Business Support Fund. These include:

  • $10,000 for employing businesses in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire in recognition of longer time under restrictions
  • $5,000 for employing businesses in regional local government areas (except Mitchell Shire)

Businesses who have already received a Business Support Fund – Expansion grant, or have applied for one, do not need to re-apply. Eligible applicants will automatically receive this additional allocation.

You can find more details here or contact us if you have any questions.

Eligibility for New Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment

If you are required to self-isolate in Victoria, but don’t have any sick leave entitlement to support yourself, you will be eligible for a $1,500 payment from the federal government.

This new disaster payment was launched to remove the financial pressure of staying at home and encourage people not to break isolation rules. From Wednesday, workers in Victoria with no sick leave can apply for this disaster payment.

According to Social Services Minister Anne Ruston, the following are the requirements to be eligible: you must be 17 or older, live and work in Victoria, be required to self isolate (or be the primary carer of someone under 16 who needs to self isolate), have been likely to work during the 14 day period, have exhausted any sick leave or pandemic leave entitlements your employer provides to be eligible.

QLD closed to NSW, VIC and ACT

This week the Queensland Premier announced the state is closed to travellers from NSW, ACT and VIC in an effort to hold back a second wave of the coronavirus.

An increase in cases in Melbourne has forced the state of Victoria to implement a curfew, tighten social restrictions, and shut down non-essential businesses. The government declared a COVID-19 disaster in Melbourne on Sunday.

Meanwhile, other states are imposing new restrictions of their own to prevent spillover from Victoria.

As Victoria and New South Wales battle second waves of the coronavirus, it’s clear that staying home is best, if possible. If you do need to travel, you can use this guide to see each state’s restrictions on travel.

Cashflow Boost Estimator

Employers who are eligible to receive cashflow boosts can calculate the credits they may receive using the FREE cashflow boost estimator which you can download here.

Those who received an initial round of cashflow boost will be eligible for a second round of assistance when they lodge their activity statements for each monthly or quarterly period from June to September 2020. For any questions or clarifications regarding this matter, message us so we can schedule a consultation.

Early Superannuation Access Extended

The Federal Government has extended the deadline for cash-strapped Australians to dip into their super and make ends meet. The early access superannuation scheme has been extended until 31 December.

The original scheme to allow cash to be drawn out of retirement funds permitted $10,000 before 1 July and a further $10,000 after that. Since April, 800,000 Aussies have made repeat transactions of up $10,000 each.

Although Australians can always access super funds in cases of financial trouble, the pandemic has forced the government to relax eligibility policies.
We are more than happy to chat to you about this so you can consider all your options before making this leap.

JobKeeper Changes Coming in September

You also probably heard the announcement that the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme will be extended from September through to March next year, with some changes.

Please be aware there are still plenty of “unknowns” surrounding the next steps but we will update you as we get more details.

JobKeeper 2.0

The next phase of JobKeeper will start at the end of September at a reduced rate of $1200 per fortnight for full-time workers and those working for more than 20 hours per week, from $1500 per fortnight previously. Those working for less than 20 hours a week will receive $750 per fortnight.

JobKeeper 3.0

From 4th January 2021 the payments will further decrease to $1000 per fortnight for full-time workers, and to $650 per fortnight for those working less than 20 hours per week.

There are also eligibility tests and requirements. Contact us for all the details.

Government-backed COVID-19 Loans Extended

The government is extending its small business COVID-19 loans scheme until June 2021. The second phase will kick off on October 1 with the following changes:

  • Loans will be provided for purposes other than working capital;
  • Secured loans (i.e. where collateral is presented) will be permitted in addition to unsecured loans;
  • The maximum loan size will increase four-fold to $1 million, up from $250,000 per borrower;
  • The maximum loan term will increase to five years, up from three years; and
  • Lenders will have additional discretion to offer repayment holidays.

If you need help to avail these loans or you want to find out if you are eligible, don’t hesitate to drop us a message.

Tips to Adapt Your Small Business During the Pandemic

As COVID-19 continues to impact the way businesses operate and consumers shop, many small businesses may struggle to stay afloat, let alone thrive. Below are some of the simple, yet effective, ways on how you can build a stronger brand, earn more sales, and survive in these uncertain times.

Showcase locally-made products

  • Now, more than ever, consumers want to buy from local brands to support the domestic economy. By highlighting that you are a local brand and are selling locally-made products on your website and ads, you may be able to attract some customers and boost sales

Present information that is relevant to consumers

  • Make sure that your website and marketing collateral feature key information that consumers need including product availability, speed of delivery, return policy, and shipping fees. You might also want to modify your product descriptions for them to become more relevant to your customers’ changing needs during the pandemic.

Offer online gift cards

  • As people switch to online shopping, now is a good time to offer online gift cards that will encourage them to purchase products even without going to your physical store.

Engage customers through social media

  • Connect with your customers in a time of social distancing through popular social media platforms. Stay active and post relevant content that will promote discussion to give your brand a human element.

Manage your customers’ expectations when it comes to delivery

  • Make sure that you make your customers aware of the possible delays on delivery, especially if you’ve just transitioned to ecommerce. It is better to be honest and transparent than to lose customers because of miscommunicated time estimates.

Want to discuss your specific business situation? Drop us a message so we can schedule a session to plan your business recovery.

Watch out for COVID-19 scams

Scammers are taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to con people into giving their money or confidential personal information. Here are some of the Covid-19 scams to look out for:

  • Scams offering COVID-19 testing, vaccine, or cure
  • Fake charities
  • “Person in need” scams
  • Scams targeting Social Security benefits

While the reason behind the fraud is new, the tactics are familiar. The best defence is to say No if anyone contacts you asking for your bank account information, credit card details, or driver’s licence number; someone you don’t know requests money through payment app or pre-paid gift cards; someone you don’t know sends you a cheque for some reason and asks you to send a portion back; or simply your gut tells you that it is too good to be true or it doesn’t feel right.

On the Bright Side…

We’re now in the third quarter of 2020 and we are still in the grips of a global pandemic– leaving many scared, frustrated, and struggling. However, among the dire news, there have been a few bright spots, as this article points out, with a listing of 100 positive things that have happened so far in 2020. For example, drive-in movie theatres are showing a resurgence, adoption and fostering of homeless animals has risen, and museums around the world have opened for virtual tours.

We understand that this year seems incredibly hard, and it surely doesn’t feel like a moment when you can easily see the glass as half full or make lemonade out of lemons. While it’s okay to not be okay, we encourage you to find the silver linings.

Get in touch

Contact us if you have any questions or want to discuss the next steps for your business.

Want to grow your business? Our Free Resources will Help