Information about coronavirus (COVID-19)

Updated: 6 April 2020 @ 1.23pm AEST  


Please join/log in to the ESSA Business Network to visit the COVID-19 support page (information on government support, business grants, HR advice)


NEW RESOURCE: Understanding your employment contract (recording of webinar)

Presented by ESSA’s HR partner, Strawberry Seed Consulting, this chat covers:
• What should (and shouldn’t) be included in your employment contract
• How your employment contract fits with the industry award
• Understanding common clauses such as restrictive covenant
• Common questions answered

Click here to listen to the recording (presentation slides available here)

Employment help

Need to talk to an expert? ESSA’s HR Partner, Strawberry Seed Consulting can help you understand your employment rights. If you would like to speak to a human resources expert, you can book an appointment by visiting the ESSA Members Lounge/Employment. Scroll to the bottom of the page.

This is a member benefit and is provided to you free as part of your membership fee.

Workplace Entitlements - Fair Work Commission

Find out about your workplace entitlements and obligations if you're affected by the outbreak of COVID19, including information about stand downs from work, working arrangements impacted by school closures, and pay and sick leave entitlements.

Government allowances – Job Keeper and Job Seeker and who is eligible

Depending on your employment status prior to COVID-19, it is likely that you are eligible for at least one of the two wage options available:

Option 1 - JobKeeper Payment


· You are currently employed (including those who are stood down or re-hired) by an eligible employer.

· You were employed by the eligible employer as of 1 March 2020.

· You are full-time, part-time, or a long-term casual (A casual employed on a regular basis for a minimum of one year or are a sole trader.

· You are an Australian citizen, the holder of a permanent visa, a Protected Special Category Visa holder, a non-protected Special Category Visa holder who has been residing continually in Australia for 10 years or more, or a Special Category (Subclass 444) Visa holder.

· You are not receiving a JobKeeper payment from another employer.


Eligible employers and sole traders will be paid $1,500 per fortnight per eligible employee.

Eligible employees will receive, at a minimum, $1,500 per fortnight, before tax, and employers are able to top-up the payment.


Duration of the subsidy is six months – it commenced on 30 March 2020 and be paid to 30 September 2020 (for six months) with the first payments to be received by employers in the first week of May. Businesses will be able to register their interest in participating in the Payment from 30 March 2020 on the ATO website.

How to apply Register as a businesses without or with employees here.

More information Please contact your employer for more advice on their eligibility and progress regarding their application for the JobKeeper Payment.

For more information regarding the JobKeeper Payment, click here.

Option 2 - JobSeeker


· You are considered unemployed and you’re looking for work.

· You are sick or injured and can’t do your usual work or study

· You’ll need to meet all of these:

- you’re between 22 and Age Pension age

- you meet residence rules

- your income and assets are under the test limits.

· Permanent employee who has been stood down or lost your job.

· Sole trader, self-employed, a casual or contract worker whose income has reduced.

· Caring for someone who’s affected by coronavirus.

Those casually employed with the same employer for 12 months or more are eligible for the JobKeeper scheme above.

Increase in Partner earnings

For JobSeeker Payment, Services Australia has increased the amount your partner can earn before it affects your eligibility and payment amount. From 27 April 2020, the partner income limit at which your payment will cancel temporarily increases to $3,086.80 gross per fortnight. If you earn any income, it will also count in this income test.

Payment Process

Services Australia has advised people that apply for both payment types if you are eligible to do so. Your business may not be eligible for the JobKeeper payment in some cases. If you already have a MyGov Account linked to either Medicare or the ATO, you will be prompted regarding your intention to claim once you have logged into your account. If you need to create an account simply begin the process and add services such as Medicare and the ATO if you have that information available to you.

Note that this is only an intent to claim and you will not need to speak to anyone regarding your claim now. If you registered an intent to claim between 23 and 29 March 2020, submit your full claim by 19 April 2020 and Service Australia grants it, your payment will be backdated to start from 23 March 2020. For more information regarding the JobSeeker Payment, click here.

Early access to your super

The government is allowing individuals affected by COVID-19 to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in 2019–20 and a further $10,000 in 2020–21. Individuals will not need to pay tax on amounts released – coronavirus amounts are not taken into account under any income or means tests.

Eligible individuals will be able to apply to access up to:

· $10,000 of their super before 1 July 2020

· a further $10,000 from 1 July 2020 until 24 September 2020.

Eligibility: To apply for early release, you must satisfy one or more of the following requirements:

· You are unemployed.

· You are eligible to receive a job seeker payment, youth allowance for jobseekers, parenting payment (which includes the single and partnered payments), special benefit or farm household allowance.

· On or after 1 January 2020, either:

-  you were made redundant

-  your working hours were reduced by 20% or more

-  if you are a sole trader, your business was suspended or there was a reduction in your turnover of 20% or more.

If you are pressured by a real estate agent to apply for an early release of your super, be aware financial advice must only be provided by qualified and licensed financial advisers, or financial counsellors, not by real estate agents who neither hold the requisite licence, nor are an authorised representative of an Australian Financial Services Licensee.

More information on the early release of super is here. Information on choosing a qualified and licensed financial adviser to advise you on your super is here.


The National Debt Helpline is a not-for-profit service that helps people tackle their debt problems. It is not a lender and it does not ‘sell’ anything or make money from you. Its professional financial counsellors offer a free, independent and confidential service.

The National Debt Helpline has produced a COVID-19 FINANCIAL SURVIVAL GUIDE on steps to take and where to find support.


Australian banks will defer loan repayments for 98% of all businesses affected by COVID-19 for six months.

Assistance can include:

· A deferral of scheduled loan repayments

· Waiving fees and charges

· Interest free periods or no interest rate increases

· Debt consolidation to help make repayments more manageable.

The business relief package is available to business customers of participating banks, with total business loan facilities of up to $10 million (up from the $3 million small business threshold) where you advise your bank your business is affected by COVID-19.

You apply to your bank for the deferral and a fast track approval process will provide support as soon as possible.

Talk to your lender about options to defer loans for your house, business or car; or any other personal loans you may have.

More information available here.


The Prime Minister has announced new measures to help renters. Evictions will be put on hold over the next 6 months for commercial and residential tenancies in financial distress, who are unable to meet their commitments due to the impact of the coronavirus.

Please seek further advice from your state/territory residential tenancy authority as different laws and support measures may apply.

We expect more news on rentals from the National Cabinet soon.



The energy networks have announced a range of measure to support customers facing hardship during these unprecedented times. More information is here.

Child Care

Around one million families are set to receive free childcare during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Australian Government will pay 50 per cent of the sector’s fee revenue up to the existing hourly rate cap based on a point in time before parents started withdrawing their children in large numbers, but only so long as services remain open and do not charge families for care.

The funding will apply from 6 April 2020 based on the number of children who were in care during the fortnight leading into 2 March 2020 whether or not they are attending services.

More information available here.


Beyond Blue's new COVID-19 Mental Health Support Service

Beyond Blue is working around the clock to build a dedicated COVID-19 Mental Health Support Service to help people experiencing concern due to a coronavirus diagnosis, or experiencing stress or anxiety due to employment changes, business closure, financial difficulties, family pressures or other challenges.

This is in response to the growing demand for mental health support as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. The Australian Government has provided $10 million for this new service.

The service will offer free counselling by mental health professionals for all people in Australia 24/7, both online and over the phone. It will also provide free and easily accessible information and advice around coping with COVID-19, isolation and connection, workplace and financial hardship, and how best to support the mental health of loved ones. The service will be continually updated with new information, and enhanced with other tools and supports, over the coming weeks and months.

Information on looking after yourself during the outbreak is here.

Mental health and COVID-19 Support from the Department of Health

Information on outlining various Australian, government-funded online, telephone and app-based mental health services is here.

Mental health resources

ESSA Board Director Dr Simon Rosenbaum has developed a list of free resources for exercise practitioners regarding the mental health impacts of #COVID19. Click here for more. Give him some feedback on twitter @simon_rosenbaum

More Australian Government funding

An initial $74 million will be provided to support the mental health and wellbeing of all Australians.

The Government’s digital mental health portal, Head to Health, will be a single source of authoritative information and guidance on:

· how to maintain good mental health during the coronavirus pandemic and in self-isolation

· how to support children and loved ones, and

· how to access further mental health services and care.