COVID-19 and Insurance Update - 15/04/2020
Over the last week there have been several updates regarding the Australian government’s JobKeeper wage subsidy program. We have highlighted key information below that we hope you will find useful, as well as resources to support mental health and well-being while working from home.
We recognise the economic landscape is changing rapidly and many of our clients across a variety of industries are keen to understand what various Government and Insurer initiatives are available and how they may be applicable to your business. Some businesses are experiencing substantive changes in activity levels which in turn is impacting revenue and forecasted wage expenditure, both of which may impact on your insurance arrangements.
EBM is here to assist you in navigating the ever-changing COVID-19 commercial climate. We will continue to share information and resources to support you. As always, if you have any questions please contact your EBM Account Manager – we are here to help.
JobKeeper Payment Scheme – Eligible Employers
The JobKeeper payment is open to eligible employers to enable them to pay their eligible employee’s salary or wages of at least $1,500 (before tax) per fortnight. Over 838,000 Australian businesses have now registered their interest in the wage subsidy.
Employers will be eligible for the JobKeeper payment if all the following apply:
- On 1 March 2020, you carried on a business in Australia or were a not-for-profit organisation that pursued your objectives principally in Australia
- You employed at least one eligible employee on 1 March 2020
- Your eligible employees are currently employed by your business for the fortnights you claim for (including those who are stood down or re-hired)
- Your business has faced a
- 30% fall in turnover (for an aggregated turnover of $1 billion or less)
- 50% fall in turnover (for an aggregated turnover of more than $1 billion), or
- 15% fall in turnover (for ACNC-registered charities other than universities and schools)
- Your business is not in one of the ineligible categories.
Find out more about the JobKeeper payment scheme.
JobKeeper - Changes to the Fair Work Act
On 9 April 2020, the Fair Work Act was amended to support the implementation and operation of the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme in Australian workplaces. These changes are temporary and will end on 28 September 2020.
The new provisions enable employers who qualify for the JobKeeper scheme, and who are entitled to JobKeeper payments for their employees, to give directions called ‘JobKeeper enabling directions’. In certain circumstances, this means that employers can temporarily:
- Stand down an employee (including by reducing their hours or days of work)
- Change an employee’s usual duties
- Change an employee’s location of work.
The new provisions enable a qualifying employer:
- To request a relevant employee to take paid annual leave (if they keep a balance of at least 2 weeks)
- To agree in writing with that employee for them to take annual leave at half their usual pay for twice the length of time.
For more information about the temporary JobKeeper changes to the Fair Work Act click here.
Working from Home: Mental Health and Well-being
Many individuals are now working from home, which in some cases, may put people under increased stress due to COVID-19. From a Work Health and Safety (WHS) perspective, employers need to take reasonably steps to provide a safe workplace for workers, including eliminating or minimising risks to psychological health.
Safe Work Australia has provided the following tips for managing stress from COVID-19:
- Regularly ask your workers how they are going and if there is anything stressing them
- Be well informed with information from official sources, regularly communicate with workers and share relevant information as it comes to hand
- Consult your workers on any risks to their psychological health and how these can be managed
- Provide workers with a point of contact to discuss their concerns and to find workplace information in a central place
- Inform workers about their entitlements if they become unfit for work or have caring responsibilities
- Proactively support workers who you identify may be more at risk of workplace psychological injury (e.g. frontline workers or those working from home), and
- Refer workers to appropriate channels to support workplace mental health and wellbeing, such as employee assistance programs.
More information about work-related psychological health and safety and how to meet your duties can be found in the Safe Work Australia Guide: Work-related psychological health and safety: A systematic approach to meeting your duties.
More information about looking after your mental health during COVID-19 is also available through the following organisations:
- Head to Health – COVID-19 Support
- Beyond Blue – Looking after your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak
- Australian Psychological Society – Tips for coping with coronavirus anxiety
- Headspace – How to cope with stress related to coronavirus (COVID-19)
Here to help
As always, we are here to help. If you have any questions, please contact your EBM Account Manager on 1300 755 112 for further information.