Open for Business
Given the restrictions we are all coping with at the moment and with many businesses closed or operating on a scaled down basis or working from home, we are changing our ways in order to develop a bigger on-line presence. In the interim, life and business needs to go on. Already we can see signs that people are emerging from the confusion and making plans. We intend to send regular emails to our customers including content which we hope you will find helpful in this time of uncertainty. This email's focus is work related. Employers who have had to close or scale down their businesses potentially face grave difficulty and are not sure what the future will hold. The good news is that local state and federal government assistance is available although navigating the bureaucratic steps involved in claiming these benefits can be difficult. Job Keeper payments are available where a business can show drop in revenue of at least 30% compared to the same period last year in most cases. However, there are a number of alternative ways you can claim Job Keeper if you can't show this monthly or quarterly fall in turnover. See the following link: https://www.ato.gov.au/General/COVID-19/Support-for-businesses-and-employers/#JobKeeperPayments The ATO is also offering cash flow boosts paid through the BAS system which is activated when you lodge your IAS and BAS. See the following link: https://www.ato.gov.au/Business/Business-activity-statements-(BAS)/In-detail/Boosting-cash-flow-for-employers/ We recommend you engage an accountant to do this for you rather than struggling through this process yourself. It is quite complicated and if you get it wrong you may miss out on the assistance or it will be significantly delayed. You may be able to take advantage of the various grants available from the NSW Government and local councils, including the City of Sydney. You also need to be aware that you cannot unilaterally impose a pay reduction on your employees. This will breach the employment contract and may amount to unfair dismissal. However, you may be able to stand employees down. This may be necessary where the cash flow effects of accessing Job Keeper are too great given the scheme requires you to pay your employees before receiving the benefits. You can find further information on this at the Fair Work Commission's website: https://www.fwc.gov.au/industrial-action-benchbook/payments-relating-industrial-action/standing-down-employees#field-content-0-heading If you need to negotiate payment arrangements with your creditors including your lessor, now is the time to be proactive and reach out to your creditors. This could make the difference between survival and failure of your business. In particular, there are commercial and retail lease codes of conduct which have been put in place specifically for COVID 19 which offer protections for lessees who cannot afford to pay rent in the current lock down. For example, your lessor cannot terminate your lease or access your security deposit if you are effected by COVID 19 for as long as the pandemic lasts and for a reasonable period afterwards. You can find out more information on the following link to Mondaq's website: https://www.mondaq.com/australia/financing/922234/covid-19-commercial-tenancies-mandatory-code-of-conduct The Small Business Commissioner offers a mediation service to assist lessees and lessors resolve disputes arising out of the pandemic. You can find out more about this service at the Small Business Commissioner's website using the following link: https://www.smallbusiness.nsw.gov.au/what-we-do/mediation Business owners should also spend time examining their core business with a view to re-evaluating what is still currently viable in the post pandemic environment and, if necessary, make changes to their business model in response. This might involve moving your business, or part of it, online. The work place and how we work is likely to be changed forever for many people. However, there are also likely to be benefits to increased numbers of employees working remotely, including less time lost in commuting, more flexible work arrangements and better home/work balance.
The following free webinars are offered by the NSW government and its agencies: https://www.nsw.gov.au/news/free-covid-19-webinars-for-small-businesses
There are many useful topics. One important webinar run by Treasury NSW deals with opportunities for small businesses to participate in government procurement contracts.