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Resources for businesses impacted by COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a significant impact on all aspects of Australian society. This includes small and medium solar businesses and their employees, who are inevitably being affected by the massive disruption to everyday life.

Several government agencies and business organisations have released guidance to help businesses get through this difficult time. Please see below for a list of resources currently available for small and medium businesses.

FEDERAL

JobKeeper Payment scheme

On 30 March, the Federal Government announced the $130 billion JobKeeper Payment scheme.

Under the scheme, eligible employers will be able to claim a fortnightly payment of $1500 per eligible employee from 30 March 2020 for a maximum period of six months. This applies to current, stood down and re-hired employees that were employed as of 1 March 2020.

To be eligible for the scheme, employers with a turnover of less than $1 billion have to have seen a 30 per cent reduction in their turnover compared to the same time last year or businesses with a turnover of over $1 billion must have seen a 50 per cent reduction in business.

Federal Government business assistance package

The Federal Government has announced a number of measures to support businesses impacted by COVID-19. Of particular relevance to small solar businesses are the initiatives to:

  • Increase the instant asset write-off. The instant asset write-off threshold has been increased from $30,000 to $150,000 and expanded access to include businesses with aggregated annual turnover of less than $500 million (up from $50 million). Businesses may be looking for further ways to cut costs and may be able to use this instant asset write-off to install a solar PV system.
  • Boost cash flow for employers. Provides up to $100,000 back to small and medium-sized businesses, with a minimum payment of $20,000 for eligible businesses. The payment will provide cash flow support to businesses and not-for-profit entities with a turnover of less than $50 million that employ staff. The payment will be tax free.
  • Accelerate depreciation deductions. Businesses with a turnover of less than $500 million will be able to deduct 50 per cent of the cost of an eligible asset on installation, with existing depreciation rules applying to the balance of the asset cost.
  • Provide support for apprentices and trainees. If you employ an apprentice or trainee you may be eligible for a wage subsidy of 50 per cent of their wage paid from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020.
  • Support the flow of credit. The government will provide a guarantee of 50 per cent to small and medium enterprise (SME) lenders for new unsecured loans to be used for working capital. This will enhance these lenders’ willingness and ability to provide credit, which will result in SMEs being able to access additional funding to help support them through the upcoming months.
  • Provide temporary relief for financially distressed businesses. A temporary increase to the threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company and the time companies have to respond to statutory demands they receive. This includes temporary relief for directors from any personal liability for trading while insolvent.

Australian Taxation Office (ATO)

The ATO has a range of measures in place to provide relief to businesses experiencing financial difficulty as a result of COVID-19. It also offers a list of FAQs covering some of the common tax questions arising from of COVID-19 and more information on the Federal Government’s business assistance package.

Small Business Relief Package from Australian banks

Under this package from Australia's banks, small businesses affected by COVID-19 will be able to defer loan repayments for six months. Contact your bank for further information or to apply for this program.

Department of Health

The federal Department of Health has produced an information sheet on COVID-19 for employers.

Safe Work Australia

Safe Work Australia has provided advice as to how employers can manage the workplace health and safety risks related to COVID-19. They have also put together some practical advice on cleaning to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Fair Work Ombudsman

The Fair Work Ombudsman has provided information on the entitlements and obligations that businesses are responsible for under Australian workplace laws in light of COVID-19.

Australian Energy Regulator

The Australian Energy Regulator has set out ten principles that it expects energy businesses to adhere to ensure the continued safe and reliable supply of energy to homes and businesses during the COVID-19 crisis. These include rules around disconnecting customers, waiving disconnection fees and offering payment plans to businesses under financial hardship.

Office of the Australian Information Commissioner

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner has provided advice for businesses on their privacy obligations to staff in relation to COVID-19.

Comcare

Comcare has offered advice on the responsibilities of business owners under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY

ACT Government

The ACT Government has released an Economic Survival Package for businesses impacted by COVID-19. Measures include electricity rebates for businesses with electricity usage below 100 MW per year and the option to defer 2020-21 payroll tax until 1 July 2022 for businesses with wages up to $10 million.

NEW SOUTH WALES

NSW Government

The NSW Government has introduced a range of measures to help businesses affected by COVID-19. These include:

  • Offering grants of up to $10,000 for small businesses with less than 19 employees, a turnover of more than $75,000 and a payroll of less than $900,000. The money will need to be used for funding unavoidable business costs like utilities, overheads, legal costs and financial advice.
  • Deferral of payroll tax for all businesses for six months
  • The creation of a $1 billion Working for NSW fund to sustain business, create new jobs and retrain employees
  • Bringing forward payroll tax cuts by raising the threshold limit to $1 million in 2020-21.

Small Business Commissioner

The Small Business Commissioner has provided advice to small businesses in New South Wales as to how they can respond to the challenges associated with COVID-19.

SafeWork NSW

SafeWork NSW has provided advice and a series of recommendations for NSW businesses on managing the risk of COVID-19 within their workplaces.

NORTHERN TERRITORY

NT Government

The Northern Territory Government has released a package of measures to help businesses get through the COVID-19 outbreak. While solar PV installations are exempt from the $30 million Home Improvement Scheme, inverter upgrades and battery installations are eligible.

On 5 April, the Northern Territory Government announced the Household and Business Battery Scheme. The scheme offers a $6000 grant to households and businesses for the purchase and installation of a solar PV system with an eligible battery and inverter, or for those who already have solar, for batteries and inverters. In addition, a new standard feed-in-tariff of 8.3 cents per kWh will be offered and apply to all new businesses and households with behind-the-meter solar installations up to 30 kW.

NTWorkSafe

NTWorkSafe provides advice for Northern Territory businesses on their workplace health and safety obligations in regards to COVID-19.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

South Australian Government

The South Australian Government has announced a number of new measures to support businesses affected by COVID-19. These include:

  • A six-month waiver on payroll tax for businesses with an annual payroll of up to $4 million. This initiative is also available to businesses with a payroll of over $4 million on demonstration of significant impacts on cash flow caused by COVID-19.
  • The ability to defer the payment of outstanding land tax bills for up to six months.

Business SA

Business SA has information for South Australian businesses on the support available to them to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

SafeWork SA

SafeWork SA has provided information for South Australian businesses’ work health and safety responsibilities for COVID-19.

TASMANIA

Business Tasmania

Business Tasmania has put together advice for Tasmanian businesses on the COVID-19 outbreak, including information about the stimulus package for small businesses.

WorkSafe Tasmania

WorkSafe Tasmania has information about the responsibilities of Tasmanian businesses in ensuring the health and safety of workers in relation to COVID-19.

VICTORIA

Business Victoria

Business Victoria has developed an Economic Survival and Jobs Package for businesses affected by COVID-19. This includes full payroll tax refunds for the 2019-20 financial year for businesses with a payroll of less than $3 million and the deferment of payroll tax for these businesses for the first three months of the 2020-21 financial year until 1 January 2021.

Business Victoria also provides extensive advice for Victorian businesses on developing business continuity and recovery plans and more information about dealing with COVID-19.

Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI)

The VCCI has produced a comprehensive COVID-19 employers guide that covers many of the issues facing Victorian businesses.

The VCCI is also offering free memberships so that Victorian businesses can access the VCCI's full range of services.

Worksafe Victoria

Worksafe Victoria has specific advice for Victorian businesses on their obligations in regards to COVID-19 and has also produced a comprehensive guide for businesses on preparing for a pandemic.

Department of Health and Human Services

The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has put together a page of advice for businesses including practical cleaning and disinfecting advice for construction sites, and guidance on personal protective equipment.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Small Business Development Corporation

The Small Business Development Corporation has information for Western Australian small businesses on:

Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS)

DMIRS has guidance for Western Australian businesses on preparing for the possibility of a viral outbreak in the workplace.

OTHER BUSINESS RESOURCES

Clean Energy Council

A list of things that solar installers and designers can do to ensure that they and their customers remain safe from COVID-19.

Employsure

Employsure has been recording one hour live Facebook sessions since the COVID-19 pandemic began. These videos offer employers practical business advice on how to best manage staff during this time. They also have a dedicated resource hub for the JobKeeper scheme.

World Health Organisation (WHO)

WHO has prepared advice on how to best get your workplace ready to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

BDO Australia

BDO Australia has produced a number of articles and webinars with advice on how businesses can best respond to COVID-19.

CPA Australia

CPA Australia has produced a comprehensive list of resources to help businesses overcome the challenges presented by COVID-19.

Harvard Business Review

The Harvard Business Review has written an article outlining how best to lead your business through the COVID-19 crisis.

McKinsey & Company

McKinsey & Company has written a comprehensive article covering the implications for business of COVID-19.

SunWiz

SunWiz has produced a video with advice on how solar businesses can reduce their outgoings and leverage government stimulus and commercial solar finance.

WELLBEING RESOURCES

The outbreak of COVID-19 is a stressful time for both business owners and their employees. The following organisations have produced information on how best to look after your mental health and cope with stress related to COVID-19: