Amidst the growing fears around the spread of COVID-19, we would like to take this opportunity to reassure our Members and share current information related to your business operations. As you know this is an unprecedented and constantly evolving situation.
The Prime Minister last night announced mandatory closure of businesses in several sectors (see below). This does not currently affect our industry and ALL landscaping businesses can remain open for now. Employers have a duty to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, that the workplace is without risk to workers’ health and safety. All people should practice social distancing of 1.5 metres apart, employers should also consider:
- practice good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene
- tell staff to stay home if they have travelled overseas in the last 14 days, are unwell, or have been in contact with a person with confirmed COVID-19.
Organisations and employers who are responsible for a workplace should start to take actions now to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.
This includes office buildings or any workplace.
- Consider whether activities/events can be postponed, reduced in size/frequency or cancelled.
- Cancel non-essential activities such as business travel.
- Encourage flexible working arrangements including working from home and off-peak travel, and consider whether staff workstations can be more widely spaced.
- Ensure adequate hand washing facilities and soap are available.
- Provide and promote hand sanitisers.
- Ensure high standards of routine environmental cleaning. Standard cleaning products are fine.
- Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces regularly, including desks and keyboards.
- Open windows, enhance airflow, adjust the air-conditioning.
- Encourage preventive actions including personal hygiene (handwashing, reducing face contact, cough etiquette), physical distancing and taking time off when unwell.
- Avoid large indoor meetings and lunchrooms and use outdoor venues, if possible.
- Plan for increased levels of staff absences.
- Plan for what to do if staff arrive sick at work.
Stage 1 Restrictions
Premiers and Chief Ministers agreed to implement, through state and territory laws, new Stage 1 restrictions on social gatherings, to be reviewed on a monthly basis. Australians should expect these measures to be in place for at least 6 months. The following facilities will be restricted from opening from midday local time 23 March 2020:
- Pubs, registered and licenced clubs (excluding bottle shops attached to these venues), hotels (excluding accommodation)
- Gyms and indoor sporting venues
- Cinemas, entertainment venues, casinos, and night clubs
- Restaurants and cafes will be restricted to takeaway and/or home delivery
- Religious gatherings, places of worship or funerals (in enclosed spaces and other than very small groups and where the 1 person per 4 square metre rule applies).
NSW schools will remain open, based on health advice, which has not changed.
- From Tuesday 24 March, parents are encouraged to keep their children at home.
- The new arrangement will ensure there is only one unit of work (this means they will all be doing online work), whether the student is at home or at school.
- No child will be turned away from school.
For more information please click here to access the NSW Government website
Government Stimulus Package
The TLA’s Accountant Cathy Hall of SumIT Accounting & Bookkeeping has summarised the current economic stimulus package introduced by the government, with the aim to help small business manage cashflow and retain staff during this time.
In the current environment it is crucial that we do not underestimate the affect that Coronavirus can have on small business. Some businesses are directly affected and will have already begun to feel the impact. Other businesses, whilst not directly affected now, may begin to feel the flow on effect of the economic downturn we are currently facing. It is going to be a challenging period for us all and we therefore need to be on the front foot, particularly with regard to the changing cashflow that our businesses may begin to experience.
- If you employ workers – the government is providing TWO tax free cash injections to small businesses and Not For Profit Entities who employ staff. The first cash injection will be equal to the PAYG Withholding amount that your business pays annually, up to a maximum of $50,000 with a minimum payment of $10,000. This will be paid from 28 April 2020 and will flow automatically once your Business Activity Statement is lodged. The second payment, equal to the first, will be made between July 2020 and October 2020 and again will flow through the lodgement of the Business Activity Statement. Great incentive to lodge you BAS’s on time!;
- If you employ apprentices – the government is offering wage subsidies of 50% of apprentice gross wages up to 30 September 2020, to a maximum of $21,000 per eligible apprentice or trainee. Eligible employers must apply for this subsidy by contacting Australian Apprenticeship Support Network ;
- Increased depreciation – assets costing less than $150,000, purchased before 30 June 2020, will be 100% deductible in the 2020 financial year. Assets purchased after 30 June 2020 will be 50% deductible during the 2021 financial year;
- Creditor Statutory Demands – The Government is temporarily increasing the threshold at which creditors can issue statutory demands on a company and the time companies have to respond to statutory demands;
- Future Business Loans – The Government will establish the Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme which will support small to medium business accessing business loans. The government will guarantee 50% of new loans issued to small to medium business with the aim of enhancing lenders’ willingness & ability to provide credit to such entities.
Please note if you have outstanding lodgements with the ATO, this is not the time to ignore them. It is important that you keep up to date with all required lodgements to ensure that you can access the full suite of government stimulus measures.
We understand that these times may be creating uncertainty for you. We encourage all members to register for our Webinar : Coronavirus – What this means for your business