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COVID-19 Business Continuity – 21st July

I’m here with the COVID-19 continuity update for Australian businesses on Tuesday 21st July.

In today’s update:
1. JobKeeper extended for some businesses
2. Victoria’s progress to flattening the curve – staying at Stage 3 restrictions
3. Facemasks are mandatory from Thursday 23rd July

1. JobKeeper extended for some businesses

Today the PM announced updates to JobKeeper following the review of the scheme’s effectiveness. Support will be targeted to businesses that continue to be significantly impacted by the Coronavirus, and extended to those businesses until March 2021

The key points from the PM and Treasurer’s press conference today:
• JobKeeper will remain as is until 27th September 2020
• Eligibility will need to be reassessed at the end of September and the start of January
• Eligibility tests remain the same
• The JobKeeper payment rate will be reduced and a lower payment rate will be introduced for those who work fewer hours.
• All other aspects remain the same (e.g., top up payments will still be required, JobKeeper will be paid in arrears, the criteria for eligible employees hasn’t changed; they must have been employed by you as at 1st March 2020.)

What the changes to JobKeeper mean for Australian businesses

One of the most important things I want to point out is that JobKeeper will stay as it currently is until 27th September. I know many Tenfold clients have done well to weather the storm and, with their business coach, they have adjusted their business to the new norm.

For those businesses that got into JobKeeper and have seen your revenue hold steady or even increase, you will continue to get JobKeeper until 27th September. There had been rumours that JobKeeper participation would be reduced earlier than the original September deadline, so this confirmation that it will continue unchanged is welcome news.

Your business coach can help you to forecast your eligibility for the upcoming September and January periods, although based on the bounce back we have seen for Tenfold clients, we expect far fewer to be eligible this time around.

If you have any questions, please reach out to us.

Here are the details from Treasury fact sheet on the extension of the JobKeeper payment:

JobKeeper Eligibility: 28th September – 3rd January
JobKeeper assessment extension period 1

JobKeeper Eligibility: 4th January – 28th March
JobKeeper assessment extension period  2

JobKeeper Eligibility for self employed
JobKeeper extension for self employed

JobKeeper Reduced Payment Rates
JobKeeper reduced payments

Essentially, the government has tightened the criteria and reduced the payment amounts to enable them to wean businesses off the program.

We’re clarifying minor elements such as the application of the alternative tests and I’ll add more details on the announcement over the coming days.

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2. Victoria’s progress to flattening the curve – staying at Stage 3 restrictions

I know a lot of people are avidly watching the reports on new cases in Victoria and are worried that the restrictions may be further tightened.

I want to reiterate my previous comments because I think it’s important that we take our cues from the experts and not the rumour mill.

The introduction of mandatory face covering is the state government’s strategy to try to reduce the spread of coronavirus while keeping the restrictions at the current level.

The Premier said, “The majority of our outbreaks are now coming from settings where people are working closely together.”

He specifically called out “at-risk workplaces, including distribution centres, aged care centres and meat processing centres.”

When we think about these workplaces, they are essential businesses – they wouldn’t be shut down with level 4 restrictions so the government needs to stop the spread in those places. That’s why we are seeing the government planning to target those sites with an inspection and enforcement blitz once the mandatory face covering rule comes in on Thursday 23rd July.

Here are some quotes from Deputy Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd.
“What everyone was hoping with the lockdown is that we would see a similar change that we saw the first time around when we went into lockdown.

“The lockdown requires three incubation periods of the virus. Each incubation period is two weeks and that’s why the initial decision about the lockdown in Victoria is for a six-week period.”

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3. Face coverings are mandatory from Thursday 23rd July

From Thursday, it will be mandatory for people to wear face coverings outside their home. That includes in your workplace and on site.

The requirement is enforceable and the Premier has announced that an inspection blitz will be carried out in workplaces across the state. WorkSafe, Emergency Management Victoria and Victoria Police will focus on at-risk workplaces.

I recommend that it is worthwhile as a business to provide face masks to your employees who are not working from home. Consider face masks as protective equipment for them to do their jobs.

You can find both disposable and reusable supplies online, but they are scarce. On Monday, Chemist Warehouse stores were still selling packs of 50 disposable face masks at a reasonable price.

For guidelines on types of face masks and how to use them, see the Victorian DHHS website: https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/face-masks-victoria-covid-19

For the information on the mandate for face coverings, see https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/face-coverings-1159pm-wednesday-22-july

 

Stay safe.

Ash

Ashley Thomson B.Eng(Hons), Grad. Dip. Mgmt, MEI
Managing Director
Tenfold Business Coaching

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