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Jobkeeper 2 & Changes to Employee Eligibility

21Aug

Welcome back to our Weekly Digest. We hope you and your family are doing well. Read on for this week’s update.

Cashflow Boost and JobKeeper Audits

The ATO has announced that it will be actively conducting audits on the cashflow boost JobKeeper scheme.

If you receive contact from the ATO to review your JobKeeper eligibility, you will be required to provide documentation as proof that you meet the eligibility criteria. This may include:

  • Bank statements
  • Tax invoices
  • Profit & loss statements
  • Employee details and contracts
  • Payslips
  • Application of turnover test
  • Superannuation payments

Meanwhile, if the ATO would like to review your eligibility for the cashflow boost, you will be required to supply the following documentation:

  • Bank statements
  • Employee data and information
  • Payslips
  • Updated Single Touch Payroll Reporting
  • Tax invoices
  • Written communication between stakeholders to substantiate changes in payments

At this point, the ATO has not yet outlined the JobKeeper audit penalties. However, based on other audits, they are expected to be significant. If you have any concerns, please get in touch.

JobKeeper Changes Coming in September

You probably heard the announcement that JobKeeper will be extended from September through to March next year, with some changes.

On 7th August 2020, the government announced that the eligibility requirements will be changed so:

  • Employers will only need to show one quarter of turnover decline to be eligible for payments in the quarters ending December 2020 and March 2021.
  • Employers will be able to claim payments for eligible employees hired on or before 1st July 2020 (previously 1st March 2020).
  • Employers can take into account the hours worked by an employee in the lead up to either 1st March 2020 or 1st July 2020 when determining the payment rate during the extension periods.

All eligible employees must be provided the nomination notice by this Friday 21st August. Note that this only applies to previously ineligible employees who now are eligible. Any employee who was eligible as at 1 March keeps this status and there is no need for them to confirm their eligibility again.

There’s also some good news for businesses on JobKeeper as the ATO has announced employers will have until 31 August to ensure these new eligible employees are paid the minimum $1,500 per fortnight wage requirement.

Further guidance on JobKeeper 2.0 (i.e. the payments after September) will be released shortly.

JobKeeper Adjustments for Eligible Employees

The ATO has released guidance on the changes to the timing of an eligible employee.

From JobKeeper fortnights commencing 3rd August, the key date for eligible employees has changed to 1 July. In the past, an employee had to be on the books as of the 1st of March in order to be eligible for the JobKeeper wage subsidy. This change is to allow for businesses that started opening up and taking on new employees after March.

Any full time or part time worker as of 1 July or any casual employee with over 12 months regular and consistent service of a business is an eligible employee for JobKeeper purposes.

Full time or part employees who commenced work after 1 March and before 1 July will now be eligible. However, there are also several other categories of employees who might become eligible under this change over this time frame:

  • Casuals who with the extended date now meet the 12 months service requirement;
  • Employees who turned 18;
  • Employees who meet the Visa requirements.

All eligible employees must be provided the nomination notice by this Friday 21st August.

JobKeeper Key Dates

The ATO’s website has an up-to-date listing of JobKeeper Key Dates including the enrolment deadline for new eligible employees.

JobKeeper 2.0

The next phase of JobKeeper will start at the end of September at a reduced rate of $1200 per fortnight for full-time workers and those working for more than 20 hours per week, from $1500 per fortnight previously. Those working for less than 20 hours a week will receive $750 per fortnight.

JobKeeper 3.0

From 4th January 2021 the payments will further decrease to $1000 per fortnight for full-time workers, and to $650 per fortnight for those working less than 20 hours per week.

Please contact us if you have any questions.

TPAR Reports Lodgement

Just a reminder that your TPAR (Taxable Payments Annual Report) is due on the 28th August 2020. The TPAR currently needs to be lodged businesses in the following industries:

This year there are changes as to which businesses need to report. Business in the following industries will need to lodge a TPAR: Building and construction, Cleaning services, Courier services, Road freight services, Information technology services, Security, Investigation or surveillance and/or mixed services (one or more of the services listed).

If you require some guidance, feel free to get in touch with us.

Superannuation Guarantee Amnesty

The Superannuation Guarantee Amnesty was introduced in March 2020 to allow employers to disclose and pay previously unpaid Super Guarantee Charges that they owe their employees from 1 July 1992 to 31 March 2018.

The benefits of the amnesty include:

  • Tax deductions for payments of the Superannuation Guarantee Charge
  • No administrative penalty of $20 per employee
  • No Part 7 penalties (which could otherwise be 200% of the SG Charge owing).

Employers need to apply for the amnesty by 7 September 2020. You can find more information on the ATO website.

Paying your employees’ super is a very important part of being an employer. So if you would like to discuss this, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Early Access to Super

The Government has extended the deadline for cash-strapped Australians to dip into their super to make ends meet with the early access superannuation scheme extended until 31 December.

The original scheme to allow cash to be drawn out of retirement funds permitted $10,000 before 1 July and a further $10,000 after that.
We are happy to chat to you about this so you can consider all your options before making this leap.

Deal signed with AstraZeneca for Possible COVID-19 Vaccine

Australia has signed a deal with AstraZeneca to secure a potential COVID-19 vaccine. A letter of intent has been signed with the drugmaker to produce and distribute enough doses for our population.

There’s also $24.7 million deal with Becton Dickinson to buy 100 million needles and syringes.

1 in 3 Businesses Have Gone Cashless

Data from the latest report by payments company Spare showed that Australian businesses have experienced an increase in cashless payments during the pandemic.

In recent months, one in three businesses have turned cashless – accepting 95% or more transactions through debit or credit cards.

Support for Victorian businesses

To support businesses impacted by restrictions in Victoria, one-off grants are available to eligible businesses under the Business Support Fund. These include:

  • $10,000 for employing businesses in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire in recognition of longer time under restrictions
  • $5,000 for employing businesses in regional local government areas (except Mitchell Shire)

Businesses who have already received a Business Support Fund – Expansion grant, or have applied for one, do not need to re-apply. Eligible applicants will automatically receive this additional allocation.

You can find more details here or contact us if you have any questions.

Shop Local to Kickstart Economic Recovery

Local small businesses are a vital part of our economy and the communities they represent. According to the World Bank Group, small- and medium-sized businesses account for about 90% of businesses and more than 50% of employment worldwide.

While the government is trying its best to protect the economy, there are many ways people can do their part and support local small businesses. Here are ways you can help small businesses stay afloat during the COVID-19 crisis.

  • Purchase gift cards from your local stores.
  • Shop online, but keep it local.
  • Order takeaway food and drinks from your local restaurants.
  • Be a little more generous than usual when giving tips.
  • Leave positive reviews online and promote them on social media.
  • Postpone instead of cancelling.
  • Join online classes if local businesses offer this option to follow social restrictions.

Take Online Payments Safely

The pandemic has significantly changed our lives including the way we shop and make payments. As e-commerce and online payments increasingly gain popularity, it is important for small businesses to adapt.

As a responsible business owner, you must ensure that your customers’ data are protected to gain their trust. This article from Entrepreneur shares some security tips when accepting online payments.

  • Choose a secure eCommerce platform and processor.
  • Educate yourself and your employees.
  • Verify the transaction and more.

When customers trust you, they will continue supporting your business. Ultimately, this will benefit your bottom line.

Useful Remote Work Tools to Boost Productivity

You’ve probably realised that working remotely is not without its challenges. Many people have adopted new strategies and habits to stay productive and avoid distractions. This article covers some AI-powered tools that can improve your productivity and make your life easier.

  • Timely- It tracks what you do throughout the day and automatically groups tasks into projects with labels and classifications.
  • Otter.ai- It uses machine learning to help you generate rich notes from your meetings, interviews, and other voice conversations– saving you time writing the summary and meeting notes.
  • Krisp- This app reduces background noise in your conference calls while making human voices crisp and clear.

Adjusting to remote work arrangements can be challenging for both employees and employers. Contact us if you need help in getting the right systems and tech in place for your business.

Avoiding COVID-19 Online Scams

Recently, there has been a significant increase in COVID-19-related online scams that steal your personal data, impersonate authorities, offer fraudulent medical goods and services, and make fake requests for charitable donations. Below are some tips from Google Safety Center to keep you from falling victim to these scams.

  • Know how scammers may reach you– Aside from emails, they may also use text messages, automated calls, and malicious websites.
  • Check trusted sources directly– Scammers may pose as trusted and authoritative sources. So directly visit reliable sources instead to get the latest factual information.
  • Be cautious of requests for personal or financial information, pause and evaluate before sharing– Do not provide confidential information such as logins, bank details, and addresses to suspicious or unverified sources. Donate directly through non-profits.
  • Double-check links and email addresses before clicking– Fake links imitate established websites by adding extra random letters and numbers or words, so be extra careful and check before you click.
  • Search to see if it’s been reported– Copy and paste the email address, phone number, or suspicious portion of the message on your search engine to check if it has already been reported.
  • Add an extra layer of security to your account– Add two-factor authentications to your accounts for extra protection online.

If you encounter phishing pages, you can report it here. For malicious software, you can report the site here.

Go Local First campaign has launched

The Council of Small Business Organisations Australia and the Morrison Government have introduced the Go Local First campaign to promote the vital role of small businesses in local communities and the national economy.

Government-backed COVID-19 Loans Extended

The government is extending its small business COVID-19 loans scheme until June 2021. The second phase will kick off on October 1 with some changes.

If you need help to access these loans or you want to find out if you are eligible, don’t hesitate to drop us a message.

Instant Asset Write-Off available til December

The Instant Asset Write-off is available until 31 December 2020, which means Australian businesses (who meet the eligibility requirements) can invest in assets to support their business. The instant asset write-off applies on a per asset basis, so eligible businesses can immediately write-off multiple assets provided they each cost less than $150,000.

You can find more information on which assets can you claim as an immediate deduction here, or contact us so we can walk you through the different thresholds, exclusions, and limits.

Get in touch

Contact us if you have any questions or want to discuss the next steps for your business.

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Business lessons learned during COVID-19

27Jul

If you’re like many small business owners you’re probably astounded by how the world has changed in a very short time. While we can all hope that the pandemic is a once-in-a-lifetime scenario, the truth is there is a lot in life and in business that is uncertain, and there is a great deal we can learn from the response to COVID-19 to help plan for the future.

Yes, your business might have changed drastically in recent months. There is good news in that, too. It means your business is adaptable and that you can find ways to survive.

Here are some lessons learned from resilient businesses and business owners during COVID-19.

1. Resilient businesses are adaptable

There are ways to adapt many small businesses to ensure they can continue operating during a crisis. The question is whether you’re willing to make the adaptation or are fighting to keep your business exactly the same as it was before.

You might miss the old ways of running your business. Missing the old way of doing things, however, doesn’t mean you have to hold firm to them. Operating a store online, allowing your restaurant to focus on take-out, offering classes online, adapting your goods or services, and letting employees work remotely are all changes that can ensure your business stays open after COVID-19 is over, and even save you money in the long run.

2. Resilient business owners plan ahead

While almost nobody saw a pandemic coming, some experts warned about the possibility of a recession and how to prepare for it. Unfortunately, many small business owners limit their planning to a crisis that lasts only a few weeks, which is where they get into financial trouble.

Disaster can strike at any time, and it doesn’t have to be a global pandemic. Having a healthy cash flow, a savings account with enough built up to cover costs for at least a few months, and a plan for addressing recession scenarios will help your business survive tough times, whatever brings them about.

You don’t want to be reactive to an emergency situation, because that’s when terrible decisions get made. Instead, plan ahead so you’re prepared and don’t have to make tough decisions based largely on emotion. Prepare for an emergency that lasts months, not just weeks.

3. Resilient business owners pay attention to what others are doing

In situations like COVID-19, business owners can learn from and help each other. Take a look at what others in your industry are doing, and even look outside your industry for inspiration. Seeing someone move their services online might give you an idea for how you can provide yours remotely. Noticing how businesses similar to yours adapt can influence you to make beneficial changes to your business.

Reach out and talk to other business owners, and to your customers, to find out how you can help them. Your BAS Agent and Accountant are a great source of help as well.

At times like these, you aren’t alone in trying to keep your business operational. Everyone is looking for solutions and there’s a good chance you can help each other.

Final thoughts

Global pandemics can devastate a small business and have lasting impacts on an industry. There are many lessons that small business owners can take away from COVID-19 to help them survive the next economic emergency. Being adaptable, planning ahead and paying attention to others can all help your business through any economic disaster.

Want to chat about your business? Please get in touch.

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COVID-19 Business Update – 22 July 2020

26Jul

Welcome back to our Weekly Digest. We hope you and your family are safe and doing well. Read on for this week’s update.

JobKeeper Changes Coming in September

This week the PM announced the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme will be extended from September through to March next year, with some changes. This comes as businesses continue to struggle and as an increase in infections has been reported in the southeast.

The JobKeeper subsidy has been extended to 28th March 2021. However, there are some changes that you should know about. Please be aware there are still plenty of “unknowns” surrounding the next steps but we will update you as we get more details.

JobKeeper 2.0

The next phase of JobKeeper will start at the end of September at a reduced rate of $1200 per fortnight for full-time workers and those working for more than 20 hours per week, from $1500 per fortnight previously. Meanwhile, those working for less than 20 hours a week will receive $750 per fortnight.

JobKeeper 3.0

From 4th January 2021 the payments will further decrease to $1000 per fortnight for full-time workers, and to $650 per fortnight for those working less than 20 hours per week.

New Eligibility Test

From October, the payment will be subject to a new eligibility test which assesses whether the business recovered in the last 6 months.

Reassessments in October and January

In early October, businesses will need to prove they’re in financial distress (showing a decline of at least 30%) in the June 2020 quarter in order to be eligible for the October – December scheme. This will need to be proven again in early January based on September quarter figures.

It is important to note that these changes are yet to be legislated, which means that they are subject to change. As the finer details become available, we will pass them on. If you need help in evaluating the impact of these changes to your current situation, feel free to contact us for guidance.

Government-backed COVID-19 Loans Extended

The government is extending the small business COVID-19 loans scheme until June 2021. The second phase will kick off on October 1 with the following changes:

  • Loans will be provided for purposes other than working capital;
  • Secured loans (i.e. where collateral is presented) will be permitted in addition to unsecured loans;
  • The maximum loan size will increase four-fold to $1 million, up from $250,000 per borrower;
  • The maximum loan term will increase to five years, up from three years; and
  • Lenders will have additional discretion to offer repayment holidays.

If you need help to avail these loans or you want to find out if you are eligible, don’t hesitate to drop us a message.

Growing Your Network When There are No Networking Events

As a business owner, you may have been part of the typical ways of networking like attending conferences and business dinners. However, with so much of the world in lockdown at the moment, growing your professional connections the traditional way may nto be possible.

While you can build relationships virtually by engaging on LinkedIn and other social media platforms, this insightful Harvard Business Review article shares other strategies to consider including:

  • Turning canceled conferences into private networking opportunities.
  • Rethinking geographic boundaries when creating guest lists for virtual cocktail gatherings.
  • Inviting senior leaders to online working group meetings.

Aside from virtual conferences, sharing your expertise, whether by volunteering, creating online content or courses, or contributing to online communities, can introduce you to new people who need what you offer. If you want to talk about your specific situation and rethink your business strategy, please get in touch with us and we’ll help you work out a plan.

Beware of COVID-19 Scams

Scammers are taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to con people into giving their money or confidential personal information. Here are some of the COVID-19 scams to look out for:

  • Scams offering COVID-19 testing, vaccines, or a cure
  • Fake charities
  • “Person in need” scams
  • Scams targeting Social Security benefits

While the reason behind the fraud is new, the tactics are familiar. The best defence is to say No if anyone contacts you asking for your personal information like, bank account or credit card details, or driver’s licence number; someone you don’t know requests money through a payment app or pre-paid gift cards; someone you don’t know sends you a cheque for some reason and asks you to send a portion back; or simply your gut tells you that it is too good to be true or it doesn’t feel right.

It pays to be wary in these situations so please be on the lookout for these scams.

Australian Team Develops Blood Test to Detect COVID-19 in 20 Minutes

A research team led by BioPRIA and Monash University’s chemical engineering department, including researchers from ARC Centre of Excellence in Convergent BioNano Science and Technology has successfully developed a blood test that can detect COVID-19 in 20 minutes.

This test will allow medical practitioners to analyse 200-700 blood samples in an hour. Furthermore, it can also aid high-risk countries in contact tracing, as well as vaccine efficacy confirmation during clinical trials and vaccine distribution.

State grants and support programs

Along with national assistance, each state and territory has announced various grants and assistance packages which you may be eligible for. You can find a roundup of these grants on the Government’s Business website. Alternatively, you can also contact us so we can discuss which options are most suitable for your business.

Boosting Your Digital Capabilities

Small businesses across Australia can access individual support to grow their digital capabilities through the Australian Small Business Advisory Services Digital Solutions. This program offers small businesses with fewer than 20 full-time employees and sole traders with high quality advice on a range of digital solutions to meet their business needs at a subsidised rate. More information can be found here.

What’s next?

We’ll keep you updated if as we get more news and updates. Now is the time to prepare a budget and cashflow forecast so you’re ready and well prepared for the coming months.

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