As we head into the Easter break, I want to provide you all a further update on the COVD-19 Pandemic. This includes recent Government announcements, an update on the release of version 3 guidelines for building and construction sites, together with medical services being made available by CCF Associate member, Company Medical Services (CMS).
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT “JOBKEEPER” PAYMENT”
Last night, the Federal Government’s $130bn “JobKeeper” payment scheme was passed through Parliament.
Under the “JobKeeper” Payment scheme, businesses impacted by the coronavirus will be able to access a subsidy from the Government to continue paying their employees. Affected employers will be able to claim a fortnightly payment of $1,500 per eligible employee from 30 March 2020, for a maximum period of 6 months. Payments are expected to be made to employers in the first week in May to reimburse employers for wage payments made before then. Under the scheme, I would like to highlight the key obligations of Employers to receive JobKeeper payments:
- Register an intention to apply on the ATO website and assess whether you have or will experience the required decline in turnover (ie: 30% or > for businesses up to $1bn in turnover)
- Provide information to the ATO on eligible employees.This includes information on the number for eligible employees engaged as at 1 March 2020 (12 months or > of employment)
- Ensure that each eligible employee receives at least $1,500 per fortnight (before tax). For employees that were already receiving this amount from the employer, then their income will not change. For employees that have been receiving less than this amount, the employer will need to “top up” the payment to employee up to $1,500 (before tax). And for employees earning more than this amount, the employer is able to provide them with a “top up”
- Notify all eligible employees that they are receiving the JobKeeper payment.
- Continue to provide information to the ATO on a monthly basis, including the number of eligible employees employed by the business
The following link has more details on the scheme and payment eligibility for employers and sole businesses. https://business.gov.au/risk-management/emergency-management/coronavirus-information-and-support-for-business
COMMERCIAL LEASE TENANCIES
National Cabinet have also agreed that short-term intervention is needed for commercial tenancies under financial stress due to COVID-19. They have also agreed to a moratorium on evictions for commercial tenants in this position for the next six months. The Prime Minister yesterday announced a Cabinet agreement on mandatory SME commercial leasing principles which will apply during COVID-19. These principles are interlinked with the Commonwealth Government’s JobKeeper scheme.
STATE GOVERNMENT – “Working for Victoria Fund & Website
Under the State Government’s $500 million Working for Victoria Fund released last week, around 450 jobseekers have now found work in roles connected to the quarantine program for returning international travellers – including transport operations, security and cleaning. In speaking today with the acting Victorian Skills Commissioner, Cameron Baker, over 60,000 “JobSeekers” have now registered on the Working for Victoria website. The website is “ramping up” to include a diverse range of roles including principle trades seeking opportunities for re-deployment. All licensing requirements are “plugged in” and registered, and you can check out further details via the attached link. https://www.vic.gov.au/workingforvictoria
MEDICAL SERVICES & COVID-19 SCREENING
We have been working with CCF Associate Member, Company Medical Services (CMS), in providing assistance to CCF members, their workers and family during these uncertain times. Whether you have a medical condition, seeking advice, or anxious about the spread of COVID-19, CMS can arrange an appointment for you to speak with a Medical Practitioner in strict confidence and privacy via telephone or skype.
This service is available to all staff and family members as a bulk billed service with no out of pocket expense for the duration the Government is providing a Medicare benefit for Telehealth Services. For more details, contact the team at CMS on 1300 212 208 or email: email@example.com
CCF ADVOCACY UPDATE & NATIONAL SURVEY
At a National level, CCF has completed a series of submissions to the Federal Government including ensuring critical civil construction occupations are continued to be ally listed as “essential skills” on the Australian Governments ‘National Skills Needs List’ in the fight against COVID-19.
In working with “Safe Work Australia”, please find attached ‘an Infographic that has been developed regarding suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 at work and steps to be taken. A national survey is currently also underway of all CCF members around the country and will be used to produce a detailed report on the impact of COVID-19 on civil construction businesses and assist in the with our political and media engagement. We have had a great response to this initiative with over 20% of the CCF membership base already completing the survey. For those of you who have not done so already, I encourage you to do so by clicking on the following link which will direct you straight to the 10 questions. It will only take a few minutes to answer.
The survey closing date has been extended to 5.00pm Tuesday 14 April. And results of the survey will subsequently be reported to member and relevant Federal Government Departments / Agencies.
BUILDING AND CONSTRUCTION SITES – Version 3 Release of Guidelines
At a local level, I am continuing to engage with Government through the Building & Construction Working Group. A new version of guidelines (version 3) covering practices on worksites during the COVID-19 Pandemic is due for release next Tuesday, 14 April 2020. This will be placed on the CCF website for your reference and available next week via the attached link. https://www.ccfvic.com.au/best-practice-for-managing-building-and-construction-sites-in-the-covid-19-environment-issued-by-victorian-state-government/
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your family all the best wishes for the Easter holiday period. It’s been an extremely busy and challenging period for all of us and it is important to take “time out”, have a break and … refresh, relax and re-charge.
As we sign off for Easter, I want to share with you this one final thought. As a young boy, my dear late mother would say to me ….. “if you see a rabbit laying little brown eggs, don’t eat ‘em. It’s not chocolate.”
To you and your family … keep well and keep safe.