NSW COVID-19 - 25 March 2020
As a valued NSW member, NECA will be providing updates on COVID 19 each day for the foreseeable future. Please look out for this in your inbox and review in full.
We will endeavor to capture everything relevant to your business, but you will appreciate the situation is constantly evolving so please be patient.
Key developments in the last 24 hours
NSW passes changes to long service leave
The NSW Parliament yesterday passed changes to long service leave which will create greater flexibility for employers and employees to access leave during the COVID-19 crisis. The key amendments are:
- waiving the one-month notice period for taking leave (by mutual agreement between employee and employer)
- greater flexibility for employees to take this leave in shorter blocks if they wish (rather than traditional monthly blocks).
NSW passes emergency laws introduced to parliament to boost community safety
The NSW Government will introduce an emergency Bill to Parliament today comprising a broad range of amendments to existing laws to help combat the spread of COVID-19, which can be seen here.
Ausgrid – no changes to ASP work
In a letter to ASP’s Ausgrid stated there will be ‘no changes to the way we are working with ASPs and other partners to plan and schedule outages’ at this stage. Read in full here.
QLD cross border operations
For the first time in more than a century, Queensland will restrict access at its border. Exemptions include (the Government may introduce a permit system to manage exemptions. Details are yet to be announced):
- Those travelling to and from work
See in full here.
TAFE courses suspended from Monday
The NSW Government announced TAFE courses will be suspended for one month from Monday 30th March.
Places of social gathering and Social Distancing
National Cabinet agreed to new and enhanced social distance measures, building on the existing measures that are in place. Worksites can and should remain open.
Federal advice is that schools should remain open but implementation of this varies by state.
Further restrictions and closures that will take affect from midnight Wednesday 25 March are listed below and here:
- Food courts to only serve via takeaway.
- Auction houses, real estate auctions and open house inspections will no longer take place.
- Outdoor and indoor markets (excluding food markets) will be addressed by state Government.
- Beauty therapists and massage parlours will close.
- Tanning, waxing and nail salons will close.
- Tattoo parlours will close
- Amusement parks and arcades will close.
- Play centres will close.
- Community and recreational centres, health clubs and fitness centres will close.
- Yoga, barre and spin classes will close.
- Saunas and wellness centres will close.
- Boot camps and personal training will be limited to 10 people maximum.
- Weddings will be limited to no more than five people (including celebrant and witnesses).
- Funerals will be limited to no more than 10 people.
- Family gatherings such as barbecues, birthdays and house parties will not be allowed.
- Hairdressers/barbers will be allowed to remain open with four-square-metre distancing requirement and 30-minute appointments only.
- Cinemas, nightclubs, casinos, gambling venues, adult entertainment venues, concert venues, stadiums all closed.
- Galleries, museums, national institutions, historic sites, libraries, community centres all closed.
- Non-essential facilities, community facilities such as halls, PCYCs and places of worship closed.
- Schools will remain open.
Ban on Australians travelling overseas
The Commonwealth Government is planning to implement a ‘do not travel’ ban on Australians travelling overseas under the Biosecurity Act 2015.
This will help avoid travellers returning to Australia with coronavirus and the risks of spreading coronavirus to other countries.
Exemptions, which will be managed by the Australian Border Force, will apply to a range of categories of travellers, including for those citizens ordinarily resident overseas, where travel is essential or necessary, where travel is in our national interest, and on compassionate and humanitarian grounds.
This prohibition is aligned with the Government’s decision to raise the Smartraveller Travel Advice to Level 4 - Do Not Travel overseas.
Key past announcements
Worksites remain open
The NSW Government has deemed construction sites as places where essential gatherings can take place. This means construction sites are not and should not close and work should continue, unless there is specific guidance from health officials. The relevant Public Order can be seen here.
All electrical work is currently permissible in accordance with all health and safety regulations
NSW Government commits to continuing delivery of infrastructure program – see here here.
On 17th March the NSW Government announced a $2.6bn stimulus, including the following measures to support business. Details can be seen here.
Schools remain open in NSW, as per Federal Government guidelines. However, the NSW Premier has asked parents to keep children at home where possible.
The Federal Government package includes the following measures:
- expansion to the eligibility of Jobseeker Payments to support sole traders and the self-employed,
- cash payment of up to $100,000 for the period March 2020 to September 2020, worth 100% of the tax those small and medium size businesses (SME) with a turnover less than $50 million are withholding from their employee’s salary and wages,
- coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme to support SMEs with a turnover less than $50 million. The Commonwealth will guarantee 50%, through the participating banks, of an eligible loan to small and medium enterprise customers that have been impacted by the coronavirus,
- cash flow support to employers, whereby the Government is providing up to $100,000 to eligible SMEs, and not-for-profits (NFPs) that employ people, with a minimum payment of $20,000,
- temporary relief for financially distressed businesses,
- immediate, quick and efficient credit for SMEs.
Business advice and support
NECA is mobilising resources to support members, in particular to access government support outlined above.
Relevant employment legislation – Fair Work has published these FAQs which providing guidance on managing employment issues arising from COVID 19.
NECA has updated its Stand Down advice. Please see the latest document here.
Webinars - NECA is hosting a series of webinars, which members can register for here.
Workplace health and safety advice and support
For information please log on into the NECA TKB. To access TKB, please click on the link www.necatkb.com
Once you have logged in click on the Safety STAR icon. Safety STAR is located on the NECA TKB website, you will need to log into NECA TKB.
Policy proposals/ media releases
NECA is developing a comprehensive set of policy proposals aimed at helping members manage the current crisis and rebuild in the future.
Payroll tax: NECA is calling for state governments to give businesses a ‘hand up, not a hand out’ by abolishing payroll tax for all small and medium businesses to help combat the continued economic turmoil caused by COVID-19.Link to media release
Contracting an essential service: Electrical contracting constitutes an essential service as set out in legislation, and NECA will be advocating accordingly so work can go ahead when it is safe to do so.
Support for apprentices: NECA is calling for the federal government to take a holistic approach to supporting apprentices in these challenging times. Link to media release
Please monitor the following sources for the latest health advice:
NECA has a dedicated webpage for all COVID 19 updates here.