Business Support through Coronavirus (COVID-19)
This page contains resources for Australian businesses concerning the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. This is a rapidly evolving situation, and this page will be updated as more information is made available Please contact us at [email protected] if you have any changes to suggest on the content of this page.
For the most up-to-date health information, please visit the NSW Health Coronavirus page here.
NSW Department of Treasury – Support for Business https://www.business.nsw.gov.au/support-for-business
NSW Government – comprehensive information for communities and businesses in NSW
Austrade – Advice for Exporters
Austrade – Latest News
Business Australia’s Employers Guide to Coronavirus – Comprehensive guide from Business Australia, including FAQ, resources and Workplace Advice Line
Business.gov.au – Coronavirus information and support for business
Business Issues – a legal perspective
Contracts – Force majeur and frustrated contracts
Obligations as an Employer
NSW Health – Resources for employers, such as advice (health-related), posters and general updates
Australian Government Department of Health – A collection of resources for the general public and industry about coronavirus (COVID-19)
Safe Work Australia – Advice on managing COVID-19 risks and work health and safety
Fair Work Ombudsman provides specific information about what to do if an employee is sick or needs to be excluded from work. It also provides guidance on whether employee leave should be considered as sick leave, carer’s leave or annual leave, as well as advising on the process for requesting employees to take leave.
NSW Small Business Commissioner – Information including employer obligations, business continuity, financial support, cashflow problems, consumer rights
Travel Advice is now ‘do not travel’
As part of an economic stimulus package, the Commonwealth government has introduced several financial support programs to assist small businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19.
- An increase to the Instant Asset Write-off from $30,000 to $150,000
- Temporary cashflow support for employers, providing up to $25,000 to eligible businesses
- Backing Business Investment (BBI) incentive providing a 50% deduction on the cost of an asset on installation
- Support for retaining trainees and apprentices with a wage subsidy of 50%
- Assistance for affection regions and communities The Government has set aside an initial $1 billion allocation to support those regions and communities that have been disproportionately affected by the economic impacts of the Coronavirus, including those heavily reliant on industries such as tourism, agriculture and education. The $1 billion will be available for distribution through existing or newly established mechanisms as soon as practicable.
- The Australian Tax Office (ATO) will also provide administrative relief for certain tax obligations (similar to relief provided following the bushfires) for taxpayers affected by the Coronavirus outbreak, on a case by case basis. The ATO will look at ways to enhance its presence in significantly affected regions to make it easier for people to apply for relief. Further details can be found at https://treasury.gov.au/coronavirus/sectors-and-regions
The NSW Government has introduced a $2.3 Billion Economic Stimulus Package which includes
- $450 million for the waiver of payroll tax for businesses with payrolls of up to $10 million for three months (the rest of 2019-20). This means these businesses will save a quarter of their annual payroll tax bill in 2019-20
- $56 million to bring forward the next round of payroll tax cuts by raising the threshold limit to $1 million in 2020-21
- $80 million to waive a range of fees and charges for small businesses including bars, cafes, restaurants and tradies
- $250 million to employ additional cleaners of public infrastructure such as transport assets, schools and other public buildings
- More than $250 million to bring forward maintenance on public assets including social housing and crown land fencing
- $500 million to bring forward capital works and maintenance.
Finance and operations
The Australian Taxation Office can help you with you tax and super obligations during hardship. It’s important to contact them as soon as you think you may not be able to meet your obligations. Call them on 1800 806 218 or visit the website for more information.
If you’re having concerns about cash flow, paying fixed costs such as rent, wages, utilities and loan repayments, the earlier you act the easier it can be to negotiate temporary payment terms with your lenders, creditors and suppliers. Read more about financial hardship.
We strongly recommend getting in contact with your bank or financial institution as soon as possible to discuss your situation. Here are the dedicated business hardship contact lines for the key Australian banks:
- ANZ Bank – 1800 252 845
- Commonwealth Bank Hardship – 1300 720 814
- National Australia Bank Care – 1800 701 599
- St George Bank Assist – 1800 629 795
- Summerland Credit Union – 1300 802 222
- Newcastle Permanent – 13 19 87
- Regional Australia Bank Hardship – 13 20 67
- Bank of Queensland – 1800 079 866
- Westpac Assist – 1800 067 497
- Southern Cross Credit Union – 1300 360 744.
Speak with an expert about your obligations under retail or commercial leases, and advice on dealing with any landlord and tenant issues. Call 1300 795 534 or contact us.
Energy and Utilities
Most utilities/essential service providers offer some form of Financial Hardship Support that can involve deferred billing, partial payment plans and other options. Businesses facing cashflow problems are advised to contact their supplier to discuss alternative payment options. This covers energy, water and telecoms providers.
- Telstra is giving consumer and small business home broadband customers (ADSL, NBN and Cable) unlimited data at no additional charge on their plan from Thursday 19 March until 30 April 2020. Telstra is also giving consumer and small business mobile customers more data. Post-paid customers (both handheld and mobile broadband) can receive an extra 25GB of data on their plan to use in Australia within 30 days.
- Optus Mobile is giving its postpaid smartphone users access to an extra 20GB of data during April, and 10GB for prepaid users.
- Airlines are offering different rebate options for passengers unable or unwilling to fly. Most require contacting the airline a set number of days before the intended flight date to arrange refund or credits. Call centres are very busy so expect long wait times on calls.
- At the moment energy supplies are not expected to be interrupted and energy suppliers’ contact centres are operating at full capacity.
- Water supplies are unaffected by coronavirus, although water restrictions are still in force in much of NSW due to previous or ongoing drought conditions. See Central Coast Council Water restrictions here
Information on Consumer Rights (event cancellations, refunds, delayed orders)
NSW Department of Fair Trading – Advice on your consumer rights and business obligations in relation to cancelled events, refunds, delayed orders.
Business Continuity and Planning for Disruptions
It’s important to be prepared in case you cannot be there to run your business. Having a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) ahead of time is a good way to ensure that your business can remain operating or viable should a disaster strike. Start your Business Continuity Plan with this BCP template.
Here are some other practical ways to prepare for a shut down or isolation period:
- Use cloud-based storage for all your business records to enable you to access your key data and documents from any location with an internet connection.
- Have a list of your key contacts and a handover notes prepared and easily accessible in case someone needs to run your business on your behalf
- Have a staffing plan to ensure your employees are trained so they have the skills and knowledge to undertake necessary activities.
- Make sure that you have arrangements for relief or casual/temporary staff you can call on at short notice if your regular staff are unable to work.
Business Disruption Webinar:
Entrepreneurs’ Programme – A commonwealth initiative that provides access to expert advice, funding and incentives to help your business innovate, compete and grow. The Entrepreneurs’ Programme can help to improve your growth capabilities and networks, engage with researchers, foster innovation and encourage commercialisation of novel products, processes or services.
Business Connect – a NSW Government initiative to help small business start or grow their business.