There are some changes coming that all employers need to be aware of. These include the reopening of NSW, the next phase of Single Touch Payroll, minimum wage increases for some industries and changes to paying super for an employee who doesn’t provide details of their super fund.
We’ve also included information below regarding the unwinding of COVID-19 Relief for individuals and businesses along with Small to medium enterprises lending options.
Reopening Roadmap for NSW
The state government has released the most recent rules in the roadmap to reopening NSW. An infographic can be viewed here
Employers must require staff who are not fully vaccinated to work from home, if reasonably practicable. Workers from regional NSW who have had at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine can return to their job on October 11. Businesses have the right to refuse entry of unvaccinated employees, customers and other visitors.
As we’ve seen throughout this pandemic, the devil is in the detail .Please contact us should you need personalised advice regarding your particular situation.
Single Touch Payroll Phase 2
In the 2019–20 Budget, the Government announced that Single Touch Payroll (STP) would be expanded to include additional information. Single Touch Payroll (STP) is the way employer’s report employee's tax and super information to the ATO.
The expansion of STP, also known as STP Phase 2, will reduce reporting burden for employers who need to report information about their employees to multiple government agencies. It will also help Services Australia’s customers, who may be your employees, get the right payment at the right time.
If your software solution is ready for 1 January 2022, you should start Phase 2 reporting. If your solution is ready and you can start Phase 2 reporting before 1 March 2022, you'll be considered to be reporting on time and you won't need to apply for more time.
Your payroll software (Xero/MYOB/Reckon etc.) will send the ATO a report with the additional information required, such as:
- details of the remuneration you pay including:
- the type of income it is for the employee (such as salary and wages or working holiday maker income)
- the components which make up the amounts (such as gross pay, paid leave, allowances or overtime)
- details of your pay as you go (PAYG) withholding including:
- the amounts you have withheld from payments you make
- information about how you calculated the amount, which you currently provide to us by sending a copy of the employee’s TFN declaration
- super liability information
Your software provider will provide you with instructions to transition from Phase 1 to Phase 2. Our team will also be on stand by to assist you with the transition. More information can be found here
Minimum Wage Increases - 1 November
Following the Annual Wage Review 2021, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) announced a 2.5% increase to the national minimum wage and all award wages. The increase to award wages will happen in 3 stages. The final stage involves an increase for the final 21 awards from the first full pay period on or after 1 November 2021
The awards that will increase from 1 November 2021 are:
- Pilots Award
- Cabin Crew Award
- Airline Ground Staff Award
- Airport Award
- Alpine Resorts Award
- Amusement Award
- Dry Cleaning and Laundry Award
- Fitness Award
- Hair and Beauty Award
- Hospitality Award
- Live Performance Award
- Models Award
- Marine Tourism and Charter Vessels Award
- Nursery Award
- Racing Clubs Events Award
- Racing Ground Maintenance Award
- Registered Clubs Award
- Restaurant Award
- Sporting Organisations Award
- Travelling Shows Award
- Wine Award
More information can be found here
Fairwork will release the updated pay calculator and pay guides closer to 1 November 2021
From 1 November 2021, if you have new employees start, you may have an extra step to take to comply with choice of fund rules if they don’t choose a super fund. You may now need to request their ‘stapled super fund’ details from the ATO.
A stapled super fund is an existing super account which is linked, or 'stapled', to an individual employee so that it follows them as they change jobs.
To make sure you're ready to request stapled super fund details, check and update the access levels of your authorised representatives in ATO online services.
You may need to request stapled super fund details when:
- your new employee starts on or after 1 November 2021
- you need to make super guarantee payments for that employee, and
- your employee is eligible to choose a super fund but doesn’t
Please reach out to your usual Addison Partners contact should you require assistance regarding stapled super funds.
Our HR Division is here to assist you with recruitment, award interpretation and compliance, employment agreements, performance management, payroll and termination advice.
Please contact Debbie Innes on 02 4995 7300 or firstname.lastname@example.org should you require any assistance with employment matters.
Unwinding COVID-19 Relief
COVID-19 support will roll back as states and territories reach vaccination targets.
The National Plan, the road map out of COVID-19, does more than provide greater freedoms at 70% and 80% full vaccination rates, it withdraws the steady stream of Commonwealth financial support to individuals and business impacted by COVID-19 lockdowns and border closures. We look at the impact and the support that remains in place.
The COVID-19 Disaster payment offered a lifeline to those who lost work because of lockdowns, particularly in the ACT, New South Wales, and Victoria where the Delta strain of the virus and long-term lockdowns had the greatest impact.
In late September, the Treasurer announced that the Disaster Payment will roll back as states and territories reach vaccination hurdles on the National Plan. Over $9 billion has been paid out to date on Disaster Payments and at 70% and 80% full adult vaccination, the disaster, apparently, is over.
At 70% full vaccination in your state or territory
In the first week a state or territory reaches 70% full adult vaccination, the automatic renewal that has been in place will end and individuals will need to reapply each week that a Commonwealth Hotspot remains in place to confirm their eligibility. The COVID-19 Disaster payment will not necessarily end, but anyone currently receiving the payment will need to reconfirm that they meet the eligibility criteria, including living or working in a Commonwealth declared hotspot.
Given that the time gap between 70% and 80% full vaccination might be as little as two weeks in some regions, the impact of the 70% restrictions might be a moot point.
At 80% full vaccination in your state or territory
In the first week a state or territory reaches 80% full adult vaccination, the COVID-19 Disaster Payment will phase out over a two week period before ending completely.
Disaster payment per week
|<70% vaccination*||$750 - lost 20 hours or more for that week
$450 - lost at least 8 hours of work
$200 - on income support and have lost at least 8 hours of work
|70% vaccination*||Automatic renewal ends|
|80% vaccination||Payment reduced from first week|
|Week 1||$450 - lost at least 8 hours of work
$100 - for those on income support who have lost at least 8 hours of work
|Week 2||$320 - lost at least 8 hours of work|
*First week population +16 years of age reaches vaccination target
Those needing financial support will no longer be eligible for the disaster payment, regardless of whether a Commonwealth hotspot is in place, and instead will need to apply for another form of income support such as JobSeeker. Unlike the disaster payments, JobSeeker and most other income support payments are subject to income and assets tests.
The Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment, for those who cannot work because they need to self-isolate or care or quarantine, or care for someone with COVID-19, will remain in place until 30 June 2022.
Support for businesses
Each state and territory manages lockdown and financial support to businesses impacted by COVID-19 lockdowns and border closures differently. The way in which support is withdrawn will depend on how support has been provided and the extent of Commonwealth support.
Australian Capital Territory
The ACT Government has distributed grants to business jointly funded with the Commonwealth. The ACT COVID-19 Business Grant was recently extended with top-up grants of $10,000 for employing businesses and $3,750 for non-employing businesses distributed to previous grant recipients in industries impacted by continued lockdowns. Large businesses $2m to $5m received an additional top-up amount of between $10,000 and $30,000. The Tourism, Accommodation Provider, Arts, Events, Hospitality & Fitness Grants have also been topped up with grants between $5,000 and $25,000 to existing recipients and the grant has been expanded to the fitness/sports sector (more information will be available mid-October).
Lockdowns eased on 1 October and are scheduled to be lifted from 15 October, with a return to normal in early to mid December 2021 (see the pathway forward). While not specified, it is expected that grants will cease at this point and instead, directed into targeted industry specific initiatives (see the recovery plan).
New South Wales
The NSW JobSaver, which provides payments of up to 40% of weekly payroll, is jointly funded by the state and Commonwealth governments. From 13 September, businesses receiving JobSaver have been required to reconfirm their eligibility for the payment each fortnight including a 30% decline in turnover test and headcount test.
|80% full vaccination||15%||$562.50||$37,500||$375|
*excludes extension program
At 70% full adult vaccination (10 October 2021), JobSaver will reduce from 40% of weekly payroll to 30%. Then, at 80% full vaccination, the Commonwealth will withdraw funding. The NSW Government announced that it will continue to fund their portion of JobSaver up until 30 November 2021 (15% of payroll).
It is unclear at this stage of what the impact of the withdrawal of Commonwealth funding at 80% vaccination rates will mean to large tourism, hospitality, and recreation businesses.
The $1,500 fortnightly micro-business grant, will reduce to $750 per fortnight from 80%
full vaccination and cease on 30 November 2021.
If you are uncertain how the easing of restrictions will impact on you and your workplace, see the roadmap.
While not significantly impacted by local lockdowns, Queensland tourism is impacted by national and international border closures. A second round of Tourism and Hospitality Sector Hardship grants have been announced although no further details are currently available.
For businesses on the border with New South Wales, a hardship grant will become available if the closure remains in place until 14 October or longer with grants of $5,000 for employing entities and $1,000 for non-employing entities (see Business Queensland for details). To receive the grant, you must operate in a ‘border business zone’ and have received the COVID-19 Business Support Grant.
Pointedly, Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has stated, “Governments must also hold up their end of the bargain and stick to the plan agreed at National Cabinet that will see restrictions ease and our borders open up as we reach our vaccination targets of 70 to 80 per cent.” The Queensland Government will be under significant pressure to open borders once vaccination rates reach 80% in December and prior to the school holiday period.
The Victorian Government has distributed grants to business jointly funded with the Commonwealth. For many of these grants, funding has been topped up in line with lockdown extensions.
The small business hardship fund providing one-off grants of $20,000 for businesses that have suffered a 70% or more decline in turnover and were not eligible for other grants or funding, will reopen (see the Business Victoria website for details).
The Business Costs Assistance Program will provide automatic top-ups to existing recipients across October and into the first half of November (two fortnightly payments between 1-29 October on a rising scale). Businesses that remain closed or severely restricted between 70% and 80% double dose will receive an automatic payment for the period from 29 October to 13 November.
Licensed hospitality venue fund recipients will also receive weekly top-ups in October of between $5,000 and $20,000, stepped according to venue capacity. Between 70% and 80% double dose, payments for licensed premises in metropolitan Melbourne will be reduced by 25%, and in regional Victoria by 50%.
Victoria is not expected to reach the 70% vaccination target until the end of October, and 80% in early to mid-November. You can find Victoria’s broad road map here.
SME Lending Options
While there is likely to be an economic rebound when restrictions ease across the country, for many, a funding gap will remain between the assistance provided by Government grants and viable trading conditions.
The expanded SME recovery loan scheme took effect on 1 October 2021. Under the scheme, the Government will guarantee 80% of loan amounts to businesses that have been adversely impacted by COVID-19.
The lending terms, repayment, and interest rates are set by the lenders but cannot be backed by residential property, that is, if the Government is underwriting the loan, lenders cannot ask business owners to use their home as security. However, Directors guarantees are likely to be required.
Under the scheme, lenders can provide:
- A repayment holiday of up to 24 months
- Loans of up to $5m
- Loan terms of up to 10 years, and
- Secured and unsecured loans
The loan scheme is generally available to solvent businesses with a turnover of up to $250m, have an ABN, and a tax resident of Australia. Loans remain subject to lending conditions and generally the lenders will look to lend to viable businesses where it is clear that they can trade their way out of the impact of COVID-19 or the assets of the business make the break-up value attractive.
If you default on your loan, you cannot simply walk away from it. The Government is guaranteeing 80% of the lender’s risk not your debt. Director guarantees are still likely to be required and for many loans, it will be secured against a business asset. On the plus side, interest rates are very attractive right now and many of the lenders are providing a repayment holiday of up to 24 months and in some cases, existing debt can be bundled into the loan arrangements.