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COVID-19 Information: Workforce Retention Issues for Settlement Services

JobKeeper

On 8 April, Federal Government passed legislation implementing the JobKeeper Payment.

The JobKeeper payment is for businesses, including not for profits, who have been affected by COVID-19. It provides $1500 for each eligible employee per fortnight for a maximum of six months.

Not for profits are generally eligible to apply if their business has an annual turnover of less than $1 billion and they estimate their turnover will likely fall by 30 per cent or more.

Organisatiosn can register its interest for the JobKeeper subsidy with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). The ATO will be in touch with those who have registered. Organisations can register at the following link:

https://www.ato.gov.au/general/gen/JobKeeper-payment/

For more information on whether your organisation is eligible and about the JobKeeper Payment more broadly, please see the following links:

https://treasury.gov.au/coronavirus/jobkeeper

https://www.business.gov.au/risk-management/emergency-management/coronavirus-information-and-support-for-business/jobkeeper-payment

Boosting Cash Flow for Employers

The Government is providing temporary cash flow support of up to $100,000 for eligible small and medium-sized businesses, and not-for-profits (NFPs) that employ staff to help with their cash flow so they can keep operating, pay their rent, electricity and other bills and retain staff. This will be done through two sets of cash flow boosts, with the first delivered from 28 April 2020, through credits in the activity statement system.

Businesses don’t need to apply for the cash flow boost. The cash flow boost is a tax free payment to employers and is automatically calculated by the ATO, but businesses must lodge their activity statements to receive the cash flow boost.

For more information, including details on eligibility, please see the following links:

https://www.business.gov.au/Risk-management/Emergency-management/Coronavirus-information-and-support-for-business/Boosting-cash-flow-for-employers

https://www.ato.gov.au/Business/Business-activity-statements-(BAS)/In-detail/Boosting-cash-flow-for-employers/

Options under workplace laws

Some service providers may have to cease or minimise some of their service offerings due to COVID-19, and as a result may have a reduced need for staff. There are a number of options available within workplace laws to deal with this. These include:

  • arranging flexible work;
  • using paid leave;
  • using unpaid leave;
  • standing down employees; and
  • ending employment.

The Fair Work commission provides information on each of these options at the following link:

https://coronavirus.fairwork.gov.au/

The Fair Work Commission is also proposing variations in light of COVID-19 to 103 awards, including the Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award 2010. The proposed updates would provide an entitlement to unpaid pandemic leave and flexibility to take annual leave at half pay. We will provide further information on this once the proposals are finalised.

JobSeeker

If employees become unemployed, they may be eligible for JobSeeker payments. Changes have been made to the JobSeeker payment to expand the eligibility criteria and increase the amount of the payment. For full details and eligibility, please see the following link:

https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/jobseeker-payment