Information about coronavirus (COVID-19)

Updated: 8 April 2020 @ 7.06pm AEST  

Business Owners

Quick Guide to Business Support
It is hard to keep up with what you can access in terms of financial support - small and medium sized businesses qualify for several initiatives under the Australian Government stimulus packages not to mention state and territory based support. We aim to compile everything here for you, in one place.

General Links: Preparing Australia’s businesses for COVID-19

Australian Government Support: Keep up-to-date with the latest information and support for businesses from business.gov.au here.

Sole Traders: For a quick overview video click here and for more information click here.

Employers: click here

Companies: click here

NDIS one-off payments due to COVID-19: ESSA heard from members with concerns about the advanced payments being offered to NDIS registered providers. Registered providers that had received an email from the NDIA about their advanced payments flagged concerns that the NDIA were offering large amounts of funding (i.e. $50,000) on the condition that providers would repay the amount at a later date. It was noted that very little information was provided on when, how and over what period of time the repayments were expected to be paid. Click here to read more.


Specific Support Measures (updated as at 31 March 2020)

Below we have listed the current measure of support offered by the Australian Government, who is eligible and where you need to go to get access. The Australian Government released updated Fact Sheets on Sunday 5 April 2020 for support for businesses to retain jobs and employees to access wage subsidies:

JobKeeper Allowance

  • Under the JobKeeper Payment, businesses significantly impacted by the coronavirus outbreak will be able to access a subsidy from the Government to continue paying their employees. Fact sheet: Economic response to the coronavirus – Supporting businesses to retain jobs  (JobKeeper Payment)
  • The Government will provide $1,500 per fortnight per employee for up to 6 months.
  • Businesses with or without (sole trader) employees that have a turnover of less than $1 billion and their turnover will be reduced by more than 30% relative to a comparable period a year ago (of at least a month).

Where you can access: Click the link for Employers and employees or Sole traders


Instant Asset Write Off

  • The higher IAWO threshold provides cash flow benefits for businesses that will be able to immediately deduct purchases of eligible assets each costing less than $150,000. The threshold applies on a per asset basis, so eligible businesses can immediately writeoff multiple assets.
  • The annual turnover threshold for businesses is increasing from $50 million to $500 million. Expanding the threshold will mean an additional 5,300 businesses who employ around 1.9 million Australians will be able to access the IAWO for the first time.

Where you can access: Click here


Rental/Lease Information

  • 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.
  • Commercial tenancies impacted by severe rental distress due to coronavirus.
  • Please seek further advice form your state/territory authority as different laws apply.

Where you can access: Click here


Boosting Cash Flow

  • Provides up to $100,000 back to small and medium-sized businesses, with a minimum payment of $20,000 for eligible businesses.
  • Small and medium sized business entities with aggregated annual turnover under $50 million and that employ workers are eligible.

Where you can access: You don't need to apply, the cash flow boost is a tax free payment to employers and is automatically calculated by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). There are no new forms required.


Bank Loans

  • 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.

Where you can access: Click here


Increased and accelerated income support

  • Expanding eligibility to income support payments and establishing a new, timelimited Coronavirus supplement to be paid at a rate of $550 per fortnight. This supplement will be paid to both existing and new recipients of the eligible payment categories. These changes will apply for the next six months and will not be income tested.
  • You’ll get the Coronavirus supplement if you’re an existing or new recipient of:
    • Jobseeker Payment
    • Youth Allowance Jobseeker
    • Parenting Payment
    • Farm Household Allowance
    • Special Benefit

Where you can access: Click here




State and Territory Business Support

As each state and territory has its own government and regulatory authorities, there may be additional business support offered, such as electricity bill relief. Please also check your relevant rental/tenancy authority for further advice on lease arrangements.

ACT: Click here

QLD: Overview Factsheet and more click here Take a look at the Coronavirus (COVID-19) business assistance finder to search for what Queensland Government assistance is available or call the Small Business Hotline on 1300 654 687.

NSW: Click hereThe NSW COVID-19 Small Business Support Grant of $10,000 will be available to eligible NSW small business owners. The application form will be available on the Service NSW website by 17 April. More information here. Get guidance for your business with the Business Concierge service to help you if your business has been impacted by the NSW bushfires and/or COVID-19 (coronavirus). Call on 13 77 88 (Monday to Friday between 7:00am and 7:00pm [Sydney time]) or request a call back here.

NT: Click hereTo access up to four hours of free and independent advice to directly help your business, click here. The Chamber of Commerce has produced the NT's COVID-19 employer guide.

SA: Click hereContact the Business Team at the Department for Innovation and Skills on 1800 763 097 to have your business questions answered about the impact of COVID-19 on your business. Other assistance by way of grants, webinars, tips and resources available here.

TAS: Click here

VIC: Click hereThe Victorian Government has launched the $500 million Business Support Fund to support small businesses in the sectors hit hardest by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic so they can survive and keep people in work. Eligible businesses can apply for a one-off $10,000 grant which can be used towards costs such as utilities, rent and salaries, and activities to support business continuity planning. More information available here.Businesses across the state can now access information on dealing with COVID-19 by calling the Business Victoria hotline on 13 22 15.

WA: Click here. The Small Business Development Corporation has created a COVID-19 assistance centre to provide dedicated, timely guidance on available support option. To access the service, contact 133 140 (8:30am to 4:30pm weekdays). Information on relief measures for small businesses including a reduction in electricity bills, licences fees waived, and additional payroll tax relief here.


Resources

HR Resources: Strawberry Seed, ESSA's HR Partner, has provided these two resources for business owners
1. Downsizing and Standing Down Employees
2. Redundancies

LIVE Business Chat (webinar recording 01:04): Employer implications of COVID-19
Presented by ESSA’s HR partner, Strawberry Seed Consulting.
This webinar includes information about your obligations and choices as an employer of permanent or casual team members.
Click here to view/listen.

Access to HR advice: ESSA Business Network (EBN) Members also have up to 90 mins (annually) of HR advice via phone or video call. Visit the EBN under Resources/HR to make an appointment.

Getting started with telehealth: For information on ESSA guidelines, digital platforms and examples visit the ESSA Telehealth page.


What else do you need to know?


Your team: Refer to the Workplace Planning HR fact sheetdeveloped by ESSA's HR partner includes advice on how to manage employees that can't work, paying employees and suggestions for how your business can be proactive. If any of your employees are noticeably unwell (i.e. not fit for work) they should remain at home until they are fit to return to work (with medical clearance). It is imperative that all clinical and non-clinical staff have a good understanding of infection control principles. 

Communicating to clients: 
Maintaining vigilance with practice hygiene and infection prevention measures and consider advising clients to delay treatment if they have flu like symptoms or present as unwell. There is a WHS obligation to do everything reasonably practicable to ensure the health and safety of anyone who enters the workplace (this includes workers, patients, carers etc.). 

Business continuity: Information and assistance on business continuity planning can be found here. 
For practices that work with the aged care sector, click here for 
aged care COVID-19 preparedness.
The Federal Health Department has released this letter containing further information and fact sheets.


Other useful resources: 
Recommended strategies for employers from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Support for Australian businesses - info on eligibility for assistance
Actions for Business/ Is your business prepared for the impact of Coronavirus
Info from WHS Regulators, state and territory health departments and agencies
Article: Lead Your Business Through the Coronavirus Crisis
Article: An accountant’s advice on how you can protect your small business from coronavirus
Advice for Business Continuity planning including examples from Queensland Government
Employsure Resources and Templates

Insurance: 
Please contact your insurance provider if you have questions about your business cover.