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.
On 30 March 2020, 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.
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:
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.
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.
The federal Department of Health has produced an information sheet on COVID-19 for employers.
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.
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.
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.
The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner has provided advice for businesses on their privacy obligations to staff in relation to COVID-19.
Comcare has offered advice on the responsibilities of business owners under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.
Australian Interstate Quarantine keeps an up to date list of state and territory border closures due to COVID-19.
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.
The NSW Government has introduced a range of measures to help businesses affected by COVID-19. These include:
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 has provided advice and a series of recommendations for NSW businesses on managing the risk of COVID-19 within their workplaces.
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 provides advice for Northern Territory businesses on their workplace health and safety obligations in regards to COVID-19.
Business Queensland is offering a number of support services to Queensland businesses affected by COVID-19, including:
WorkCover QLD has advice for Queensland businesses on workplace risk management for COVID-19.
From 12.01 am Thursday, 19 November the South Australian Government implemented circuit breaker restrictions to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
The South Australian Government has announced a number of new measures to support businesses affected by COVID-19. These include:
Business SA has information for South Australian businesses on the support available to them to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.
SafeWork SA has provided information for South Australian businesses’ work health and safety responsibilities for COVID-19.
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 has information about the responsibilities of Tasmanian businesses in ensuring the health and safety of workers in relation to COVID-19.
Information on Roadmap to Reopening for business and industry, sector guidance for Construction businesses within metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria.
Advice on creating a COVIDSafe workplace including a COVIDSafe Plan, which is required for all businesses operating in Victoria.
Clean Energy Council
To assist solar businesses meet their legal obligations and operate in a COVIDSafe manner, the Clean Energy Council has updated its Managing the Risk of COVID-19 document and Victorian Rooftop Solar Industry COVID-19 Checklist.
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.
Energy Safe Victoria has put together some frequently asked questions for gas and electrical stakeholders working in metropolitan Melbourne.
The Victorian Government has launched the Retrenched Apprentices and Trainees Program to assist apprentices and trainees who have lost employment during the COVID-19 pandemic to complete their training.
Employers with job vacancies can register for the program to be matched with suitable candidates to interview.
Solar Victoria has a list of FAQs for the Victorian solar industry.
The VBA is keeping a page with updated restrictions, including the revisions of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidelines for the Building and Construction Industry.
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 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.
Worksafe Victoria has also put together a comprehensive guide about face-covering requirements for workplaces, which came into effect for businesses operating within metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire on 23 July, and the rest of Victoria at 11.59 pm August.
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.
Details of the business and industry stage 4 restrictions, which come into effect for metropolitan Melbourne at 11.59 pm Wednesday 5 August, can be found here.
The Small Business Development Corporation has information for Western Australian small businesses on:
DMIRS has guidance for Western Australian businesses on preparing for the possibility of a viral outbreak in the workplace.
A list of things that solar installers and designers can do to ensure that they and their customers remain safe from COVID-19.
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.
WHO has prepared advice on how to best get your workplace ready to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
BDO Australia has produced a number of articles and webinars with advice on how businesses can best respond to COVID-19.
CPA Australia has produced a comprehensive list of resources to help businesses overcome the challenges presented by COVID-19.
The Harvard Business Review has written an article outlining how best to lead your business through the COVID-19 crisis.
McKinsey & Company has written a comprehensive article covering the implications for business of COVID-19.
SunWiz has produced a video with advice on how solar businesses can reduce their outgoings and leverage government stimulus and commercial solar finance.
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: