Stage 2 of the Economic Recovery backed by Prime Minister

Scott Morrison has set his sights on using a business led economic recovery plan relying on deregulation to help grow Australian businesses and recover from the Covid-19 Pandemic. He addressed the Business Council of Australia & has said that investing $120 million into a deregulation package will help guide Australia out of the recession. The budget aims to kick-start stage two of the National Economic Recovery Plan based on lower taxes, competitive policy settings, sensible industrial relations setting, deregulation, open trade & open markets.

The plan aims to invest in our people & new technologies to become one of the world’s leading digital economies by 2030. The plan is to take full advantage of the global energy transition taking place around the world. It puts business & the private sector in the forefront for a durable & strong economic recovery. As part of the plan, the Prime Minister pledged he would strive to save individual businesses $430 million a year by reducing compliance costs.

The government are determined to take unnecessary regulatory burdens off businesses reporting under the National Greenhouse & Energy Reporting Scheme. This will reduce time spent preparing reports by around 70 percent in some cases & will benefit more than 900 companies reporting on 7,500 facilities every year. The government will also streamline digital health services reducing the regulatory burden on about 400 companies in the pharmaceutical, medical technology services & medical software industry.

The government have indicated that the budget next month will lay out the next phase of Australia’s economic recovery plan to grow our economy so we can deliver jobs & guarantee essential services Australian’s rely on & keep Australian’s safe.

Changes to Casual Employment – Industry Reforms

The Fair Work Act 2009 (FW Act) was amended on 26 March 2021 to change the workplace rights and obligations for casual employees. The changes were made by Fair Work Amendment Act 2021 and came into effect on 27 March 2021.

The changes that have occurred are the introduction of a Casual Employment Information Sheet, which provides a definition of casual employment and provides a pathway for casual employees to move into full-time or part-time (permanent) employment.

The Casual Employment Information Sheet (CEIS) must be provided to every new casual employee before or as soon as possible after the new casual employee starts their job. Small business employers must provide all existing casual employees with a copy of the CEIS as soon as possible after March 27 2021.

The definition of a casual employee has been amended in the FW Act to include a new definition. Under the new definition, a person is a casual employee if they accept a job offer from an employer and that there is no firm advance commitment to ongoing work with an agreed pattern of work. Once employed as a casual, an employee will continue to be a casual until they become a permanent employee through casual conversion or are offered & accept a full-time or permanent part-time employment or stop being employed by the employer.

The Amendment Act adds a new entitlement to the National Employment Standards giving a pathway for casuals to convert to permanent employees, known as ‘casual conversion’. An employer (other than a small business employer) has to offer their casual employee to convert to a permanent employee when the employee: has worked for the employer for 12 months, has a regular pattern of hours for at least 6 months on an ongoing basis, could continue working those hours as a permanent employee without significant changes. There are exceptions that apply such as small business employers and having ‘reasonable grounds’ not to make an offer.

If you have any questions or queries or want to check whether you are required to offer a permanent position to your staff members, feel free to contact Sophie or Graham for assistance.   

The CEIS is attached here for your reference.

Small Business Fees & Charges Rebate

Government has introduced a new fees & charges rebate for small businesses. Sole traders, small business owners & non-for-profits may be eligible for the small business fees & charges rebate of up to $1,500. The aim is to encourage growth of businesses by reducing the running costs. Eligible businesses only need to apply once, however, they can submit multiple claims until they reach the full value of $1,500.

The rebate is available from April 2021 and will be open until 30 June 2022. Businesses are able to claim the rebate against invoices due & paid from 1 March 2021 for eligible invoices from the NSW Government. The rebate is in the form of Digital Credit, which can offset the cost of NSW and Local Government fees & charges.

Eligibility criteria for this are small businesses, including non-employing sole traders, who do not reach the NSW Government payroll tax threshold ($1.2 million). They must have an ABN in NSW, be registered for GST & have a turnover of $75,000 per year.

Small businesses can claim the rebate for local council rates and charges related to the cost of doing business such as tradesperson licenses, motor vehicle registration fees & other government costs related to doing business.

To apply, all documents must be ready as the process can’t be saved for later. You will login to your Service NSW Account, verify your identity with documents, confirm contact details, enter required details & upload supporting documentation. You will then need to enter your bank details, review your application, check the declaration & submit the application. You may be required to submit a letter from your accountant, and we are happy to help with supplying this.

If you have any questions or queries or would like assistance applying for the rebate, feel free to contact Sophie or Graham.

ATO Audit Activity Increasing

You may have seen in the media that the ATO is currently increasing their audit of JobKeeper and Cash Flow Boost Claims. If businesses have made a genuine attempt to do the right thing, the ATO are taking a pragmatic approach.  This is due to how fluid the rules were early on and very open to interpretation due to the quick implementation of the COVID schemes.

In some cases, it has been found that an innocent error resulted in overpayment, particularly with JobKeeper, but the overpayment was passed onto the employee in good faith. In cases similar to these, no action is taken, however in some instances, there have been calculated steps to manufacture claims & the ATO will take much firmer action on these situations.

To be safe, you need to ensure there is a defendable document trail that supports both JobKeeper & Cashflow boost claims. If we have been processing Jobkeeper on your behalf, we have put together a file for your business with the necessary JobKeeper documentation. The ATO have a page on ‘Keeping JobKeeper Fair’ which focuses on the areas they are aiming to look into such as claiming incorrect decline in turnover (15% decline where 30% should be taken), claiming employees when the correct funds were not passed onto them by the due date and claiming the Tier 1 rate on the extension when an employee generally worked less than 20 hours average per week.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your JobKeeper or Cashflow boost claim, feel free to contact us.

Apprentice Wage Subsidy

Employers across the country will be given $1.2billion to hire 70,000 apprentices in an expansion by the Federal Government to the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencement wage subsidy initiative. The plan implemented is an uncapped job-creation plan that the Federal Government hopes will avoid a youth unemployment crisis from the coronavirus pandemic. Currently around 100,000 apprentices have been employed through the existing wage subsidy scheme to-date.

The Federal Employment Minister Michaelia Cash has said the extension would mean any businesses that signed up a new apprentice between March and September 30 2021 would get a full 12 months of the subsidy. To find out more about this subsidy, contact your apprenticeship support network as they will assist you with claiming the subsidy.