NSW COVID-19 - 27 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
Please see past announcements below.
Places of social gathering and Social Distancing – no change announced by PM
Enhanced social distance measures are in place as of midnight Wednesday 25 March Worksites can and should remain open.
Federal advice is that schools should remain open but implementation of this varies by state.
The workplaces that cannot open are listed here
Federal Government Portal on all measures relating to COVID-19
The Federal Government has developed a new website which includes details of all measures introduced to support small business. Please see here.
NATIONAL STIMULUS PACKAGE
The Federal Government is set to announce a third round of stimulus in the coming days, including measures to ‘hibernate’ the economy. NECA will share details as soon as they are available.
Australian Services Union and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry strike deal to protect jobs
The ASU and ACCI agreed a deal which will forfeit certain awards in an effort to protect jobs. Details can be seen here.
AUSTRALIAN SMALL BUSINESS AND FAMILY ENTERPRISE OMBUDSMAN – MY BUSINESS HEALTH PORTAL – COVID-19
The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman ‘My Business Health’ web portal now features a dedicated section for small business owners struggling with the COVID-19 crisis. See details here: https://www.asbfeo.gov.au/my-business-health/categories/covid-19
BUNNINGS INTRODUCES TEMPORARY PURCHASE LIMITS FOR HIGH PRODUCTS AND AN EXCLUSIVE TRADIE PERIOD
Bunnings has introduced temporary purchase limits for high demand products. From 26 March 2020, Bunnings will limit the quantity per customer per transaction for the following:
Maximum four items per customer:
Maximum one item per customer:
Respirators/ face masks
Fuel cans o Methylated spirits
From 30 March 2020, Bunnings stores will open exclusively for trade customers, health and emergency services workers before 9am on weekdays.
AUSTRALIAN APPRENTICESHIPS INCENTIVES PROGRAM GUIDELINES
The Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Program Guidelines (Guidelines) has been released containing provisions to support small businesses to retain apprentices and trainees, as well as support for employers to reengage apprentices and trainees where a small business is not able to retain them.
Part H of the Guidelines reimburses 50 per cent of the Australian Apprentice’s gross wage, over the nine month period 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020. Employers will be reimbursed up to a maximum of $7,000 per quarter, per eligible Australian Apprentice. It also outlines the eligibility criteria.
The Guideline will come into effect from 2 April 2020.
New quarantine measures for returning travellers
The Prime Minister today announced all arrivals from abroad must self-isolate in hotels and other accommodation for two weeks before they are able to return to their home.
Key past announcements
Fines for breaking social distancing rules
NSW Police will hand out on-the-spot $1000 fines to people who flout tighter lockdown rules, including holding house parties or having more than 10 mourners at a funeral. Details of what is not allowed can be seen here.
Worksites can and should remain open under the current rules.
QLD cross border operations
For the first time in more than a century, Queensland has restricted access at its borders. Details can be seen in full here.
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.
TAFE courses suspended from Monday
The NSW Government announced TAFE courses will be suspended for one month from Monday 30th March.
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.
Ban on Australians travelling overseas
The Commonwealth Government has implemented a ‘do not travel’ ban on Australians travelling overseas under the Biosecurity Act 2015.
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:
If you notice a change in the way that you or others around you are thinking and feeling, or you feel that you are not coping, then it is important to talk to a health professional.
You can access a range of telephone and online based supports through:
Beyond Blue, 1300 22 46 36
Lifeline Australia, 13 11 14
Mens Line Australia, 1300 78 99 78
Kids Helpline, 1800 551 800
NECA has a dedicated webpage for all COVID 19 updates here.