COVID-19 Industry Updates

This page will be our primary source of industry related COVID-19 information, resources and updates for members and industry.

MLSA are working with key stakeholders around the current and emerging situation regarding COVID-19 and what this means for our industry. We are committed to ensuring that the service you receive through this challenging time is relevant, credible and reliable and provides support for you and your business as we navigate this unknown territory.

Please reach out to any of us if there is anything we can help you with. We’re all here to help and support you, your team and your business.

We will be communicating regularly through our existing social media channels, Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook. If you are not already connected with us through those mediums please connect with us now.

Our members health, prosperity and safety is of paramount importance to us. Please stay safe and stay connected.

COVID-19 Questions

If you need an answer other members might too. Submit a question and we will do our best to get them answered.

Or contact:
Carla Mellor
Director Learning and Workforce Capability
0424 692 718
carla.mellor@landscapesa.com.au

Latest Updates

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Fair Work make temporary changes to employment conditions to support flexibility during Covid-19

Changes to Modern Awards to support business operations during the pandemic

What awards are impacted?

Fair work have made temporary amendments to 99 modern awards including the Gardening and Landscaping Services Award 2020 and the Horticulture Award 2010. The Building and Construction General On-site Award 2010 is not covered by the Fair Work Commission’s variations.

What are the changes?

Two weeks’ unpaid pandemic leave – All employees (full time, part time and casual) are entitled to two weeks’ unpaid pandemic leave in full immediately if they are:

  • Required to self-isolate; or
  • Otherwise prevented from attending work by measures taken by government or medical authorities
  • This leave is considered a workplace right under the Fair Work Act.

Double annual leave at half pay

  • Employers and employees may agree to the taking of up to twice as much annual leave at half the rate of pay

Amendments to the Fair Work Act to enable practical implementation of the JobKeeper Scheme

In addition to the temporary changes to the fair work act, temporary amendments have been made to specific modern awards

If your business qualifies for the JobKeeper scheme, and is entitled to JobKeeper payments for a particular employee, additional options will be available to you in relation to your eligible employees.

It is important to note that these options are temporary and only apply for the period of 30 March to 27 September 2020. Employers are only able to exercise these options if they meet the eligibility for JobKeeper.

What does this mean for our industry?

If your individual business is not eligible for JobKeeper payments, then the temporary changes to modern awards do not apply to you. Standard employment conditions will apply and remain. If you are eligible, the following changes can be negotiated between you and your employees:

  • Temporarily reduce hours and days of work
  • Direction to perform different duties
  • Request to work different days or times
  • Request to take annual leave

Whilst navigating these times, it is important that employees and employers work together to find a mutually agreeable solution wherever possible. Employers should try to avoid directions to employees without their consent or input to a proposed solution.

fair-work-changes

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The importance of a Domestic Works Contract!

In these uncertain economic times, ensuring timely payment is front of mind for many of our members. In recent weeks, we have seen an increase in enquiries regarding this area with members feeling more anxious than usual about ensuring payment for services provided.

The short and simple answer is a written contract with appropriate terms and conditions is your best ‘insurance’ to ensure payment.

Too often, our industry can fall into the trap of verbal, handshake, text message and email agreements which leaves our members exposed in the case of a dispute once work is finalised. This is particularly common when variations or changes are negotiated throughout the process.

The MLSA Domestic Landscape Works Contract 2019 has been designed with our members in mind to provide you with the peace of mind of knowing you have a solid agreement in place with your customers and clients.

What can I do to ensure I get paid?

Securing cash flow and getting paid is fundamental to business, especially so in financially challenging times. Some top tips for prompt payment are:

  1. Ensuring you have a written contract.
  2. Seek appropriate deposits where possible.
  3. Ensure that your customer has a clear understanding in relation to your strict expectations and requirements in relation to progress payments – this should be done in both the written contract, and the message repeated whenever appropriate in invoices and emails.
  4. Do not start any work until the customer has signed and returned the contract and the deposit monies have cleared in your account.
  5. Do quality work and keep photographic records. The quickest way to not getting paid is to deliver bad quality work!

The MLSA Domestic Landscape Works Contract 2019 edition is a contract that has been created by FBR Law and allows you to choose the number of progress payments and when progress payments are to be made. 

How can I protect myself against Coronavirus (COVID-19) and associated delays?

A contractor’s rights and obligations depend on the terms of the contract.

The MLSA Contract already has appropriate clauses to deal with the consequences of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and associated delays.

If you are using the MLSA Contract:

  • Clause 11.1.10 of the contract provides “the Contractor shall be entitled to a reasonable extension of time to complete the Works if there is any delay in the Work as a result of any cause, thing or other contingency not reasonably foreseeable by the Contractor or beyond the control of the Contractor”.  We think it is very clear that delays caused by coronavirus are delays beyond your control.
  • Clause 11.2 of the contract provides that you should notify the owner of the likely delay.  No particular form of notice is required. A simple email keeping the owner updated as to state of progress and likely delay is sufficient.
  • Clause 11.2 of the contract further protects the contractor.  If you forget or fail to give the owner notice of delay, you will still be able to get a reasonable extension of time.

If you are currently negotiating contracts you are best to:

  • not commit to any specific time-frames – do not complete item 17 to the Contract Schedule – rather you can limit your timing obligations by promising to do the work as quickly as you reasonably can; and
  • ensure that you price the work appropriately to consider COVID-19 associated risks.

A copy of the MLSA Domestic Landscape Works Contract 2019 is available to all members for purchase at the heavily reduced rate of $275.00. Once payment has been received your logo will be inserted into the contract and emailed directly to you.

To purchase a copy or to find out more please contact:

Hannah Davis
Email: office@landscapesa.com.au
Phone: 0428 789 431 

If you have any questions about the contract or how to complete the contract variables, you can call FBR Law on 8272 3644.

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Since the widespread disruption of COVID-19 both the federal and state governments have come out with a range of initiatives specifically designed to support employers of apprentices and trainees.

As your association, we want to ensure all our members are across these benefits and what they mean for you. This email contains a summary of the incentives that are available to support you and your business.

 

Are you an employer of an existing apprentice or trainee?

If you are a small business, currently employing an apprentice or a trainee and this person was signed up with your business prior to March 1 this year you may be eligible for the wage subsidy. To qualify, your business must employ less than 20 employees.

For eligible employers, the federal government  will provide up to $25,000 back to your business. The subsidy will cover 50% of wages paid from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020.

Business’ will be reimbursed up to $7,000 per quarter up to a maximum of $21,000 per eligible apprentice or trainee.

If you are eligible for this subsidy you should have received a claim form direct to your business. Simply complete the claim form and submit online.

If you have any questions regarding this process – please get in contact and we will do our best to support you and direct your enquiries accordingly.

 

Are you an employer looking to engage a new apprentice or trainee?

There are a number of federal and state government stimulus packages available to continue to encourage employers to take on apprentices and trainees within their business during this time.

Details of the specific funding is broken down below:

 

Equipped for Growth 

Small business’ within SA are eligible for up to $5,000 of financial support when taking on a new apprentice or trainee. The definition of small business for this particular funding is any business with 25 or less employees.

This funding package will cover upfront costs of taking on a new apprentice or trainee and is designed to assist with costs such as:

  • Recruitment, including induction and on-boarding of a new apprentice
  • Pre-employment testing
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Tools and equipment
  • Mental health and resilience training
  • Training and licenses

This funding is available via application, a link to commence the registration process can be found here

Paper-based application form 
 

Equipped for Work

Business’ with more than 25 employees who take on a new apprentice are eligible for $1000 in financial support towards the cost of the following items:

  • Tools, clothing and equipment
  • Car licensing, registration or driving lessons
  • Training and licenses
  • Personal protective equipment

This funding is available via reimbursement and can be accessed by completing the attached form and submitting with receipts and evidence of expenses incurred up to $1,000. The claim must be submitted within 90 days of the training contract being signed.

 

Are you an employer who has experienced a decrease in business turnover due Covid-19?

If you are an employer that employs staff and your business has experienced a decrease in turnover of 30% due to the pandemic, you may be eligible for the Federal Government’s Job Keeper stimulus package.

Eligible employers will be entitled to a wage subsidy of $1500 per fortnight per eligible employee for up to 6 months.

These payments will be made for employees (full time, part time and long term casuals). These payments will be made monthly in arrears by the ATO.

To access the job keeper payment you must register your interest to the ATO.

A link to the appropriate ATO website can be found here

Job-keeper factsheet

 

Additional information

Supporting Apprentices and Trainees – Your questions answered

Cash flow assistance for businesses

Financial support to hire an apprentice

Please reach out if you would like any additional information or assistance in obtaining any of these subsidies. Please note that the financial support incentives and initiatives outlined in this email are in addition to the standard federal government support that is available to employers of apprentices.

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Eligible business’ will get $1500 per fortnight as a ‘job keeper’ payment. This payment will start to flow through in the first week of may but will be back dated to todays date (March 30th).

To be eligible your business must meet the following criteria:

  • Turnover must have fallen by more than 30% since the outbreak of the virus
  • All permanent employees, employed on 1 March are eligible for the payment
  • Casual employees who have been employed for a period greater than 12 months are also eligible

If these criteria are met, your business will receive the $1500 per fortnight payment per eligible employee.

In addition

The federal government have announced additional support for small and medium business’ that employ people. These eligible business’ will now receive a full rebate on income tax withholdings up to $100,000. This story is still developing and we will continue to keep you updated as more information comes to light.

The intent behind these payments is to sustain your business’ through these difficult times and keep as many of us in employment as we can.

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Safeworkaustralia.gov.au have released a dedicated resource set of COVID-19 information for workplaces on a range of topics including:

  • Your employer duty to your workers
  • Controls you should be putting in place to manage risk including provision of facilities and supplies
  • Directing workers around PPE and facemasks
  • If a worker wants to stay away from the workplace or you want to direct a worker to stay away
  • Managing mental health and duty of employers to psychological health
  • What to do if a worker test positive for COVID-19

https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/covid-19-information-workplaces

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Screenshot of the Coronavirus Australia government app page in the Apple app store.

Under the ‘Advice’ tab on the app’s home screen you will find a ‘For businesses and employees’ tab. It contains links to a range of Government information sources including information that may not be immediately obvious such as ‘Understanding your obligations when handling private health information of staff’.
 
Search for the app in your app store.
 
Apple device App Store:
https://apps.apple.com/au/app/coronavirus-australia/id1503846231
 
Android device Google Play:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=au.gov.health.covid19

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In response to questions from many of our members

We are looking for new and innovative ways to keep you all updated on matters that are relevant to you, your business’ and your staffing matters during this rare and challenging time.

We are continuing to receive enquiries from many of you and are working closely with our key government and industry contacts to keep up to date with information and changes that impact our industry and broader community further.

Today we have received a number of queries regarding how to keep our workers safe and what adjustments should be undertaken within our specific workplaces, given the need to socially distance wherever realistically possible.

MLSA staff working remotely

In response to the latest change from our Government, the MLSA staff have transferred to remote working. Non business critical face to face meetings are being held remotely. We have successfully tested the available software and can assure you that we are available and able to respond to the times and continue to work with and on behalf of our industry.

Advice from Safework Australia

Safework Australia have released the below information for employers which we thought relevant to share.

https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/doc/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-employers

Stimulus package monitoring

In addition, we are continuing to remain across the ongoing changes and updates to stimulus packages and what this could mean for you and your business. We will continue to communicate this out to our member base as new information comes to hand.

Please get in contact with us should you have any specific questions you would like us to assist with.

In the meantime we will be continuing with regular updates and looking to help you navigate this unprecedented time in any way can.

Please stay safe and reach out if we can assist in any way.

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Your trusted partner

As your trusted industry partner, Master Landscapers of SA are committed to helping our members navigate through these uncertain and unprecedented times.
MLSA will continue to monitor all updates and changes that impact our members and industry. As a reliable source of information for our members, we aim to keep you as up to date as possible.

 

Government Stimulus Package for Business Owners

MLSA Sponsor, Henson Lloyd Accountants, has issued the below information:

During this uncertain time we understand the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on small business. We want to assure you that we are here for any questions you have in relation to the operation of your business and tax obligations.

In light of the recent COVID-19 pandemic the ATO have taken action in regards to assisting small business. As per our newsletter recently circulated the ATO have announced the following stimulus packages for businesses:

  1. Increasing the instant asset write off from $30,000 to $150,000 for each asset purchased between 12th March 2020 and 30th June 2020.
  2. Employers will receive a credit on their activity statements of 50% of tax withheld on wages between 1st January 2020 to 30th June 2020. These credits will be applied against the ATO account. If eligible maximum payment is $25,000 and will be paid from 28th April 2020. You do not need to apply for these benefits. They will automatically be applied to your next two BAS periods.
  3. If businesses with less than 20 employees have apprentices and trainees a wage subsidy of 50% is available. This applies to wages paid from 1st January 2020 to 30th September 2020. Maximum reimbursement is $21,000 per eligible apprentice or trainee ($7,000 per quarter). To apply for this reimbursement you must register for the subsidy from early April 2020.
  4. Casual employees who are required to self-isolate will have access to the Government’s Newstart Allowance. Waiting period will be waived, assets test will apply.

The ATO are also taking measures to assist small business affected by COVID-19 with their tax payments.

The measures include:

  1. Deferring by up to 4 months the payment date for activity statements, income tax and FBT.
  2. Ability to vary PAYG Instalments to $0 for the 2020 financial year.
  3. Remission of interest and penalties incurred from 23rd January 2020.
  4. Allowing businesses to enter into low interest payment options.

These concessions do not apply to super guarantee obligations.

If you do require relief with ATO payments due to the impact of the COVID-19 on your business please contact our office to assist.

These deferrals do not automatically apply, each case must be negotiated with the ATO.

For More Information

For more information on the Government Stimulus Package, please visit the ATO website on the link below:
https://www.ato.gov.au/Media-centre/Media-releases/Support-measures-to-assist-those-affected-by-COVID-19/

We hope you and your families stay safe.

As always if you have any queries regarding the above please do not hesitate to contact MLSA or Henson Lloyd

 

Global Health & Crisis Response

MLSA Sponsor, Gallagher, has sent through facts and insights on COVID-19 prepared by McKinsey management consultants.

MLSA members may find particularly useful page 18 onwards where there are useful strategies and actions that companies can consider in managing business continuity and protecting workforces.

Download CONVID-19 Facts and Insight

You May Also Like…

The potential affect on Building and Construction Contracts

Workplace entitlements and obligations if you’re affected

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Federal Government Stimulus

As some of you may have heard in the media, the Federal Government have announced a stimulus package designed to keep Australians in jobs as our economy takes a hit from the spread of the Coronavirus. This package contains packages and subsidies that are likely to significantly benefit our members as we face this economically uncertain time.

  • Do you run a business that turns over less than $50 million a year?
  • Do you currently employ apprentices and run a business with less than 20 employees?

If you fit into either or both of these categories then there are significant benefits available to you and your business as part of the Federal Government $17.6 billion economic stimulus package.

 

What we the package will include so far

Tax breaks and subsidies for small businesses

A Payment of up to $25,000 is available to businesses that employ people and have a turnover of up to $50 million. “The payment will be delivered automatically through the tax system so no new forms will be required, and these payments are tax free, so they’ll be delivered automatically and these payments are tax free” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said.

Businesses with a turnover of up to $500 million will also be able to write off purchases of up to $150,000. Mr Frydenberg said “any such purchase from now until 30 June, including a truck, a tractor, a shop fit-out, can be written off immediately.” The instant asset write-off threshold will also be raised from $30,000 to $150,000 and access expanded to businesses with an annual turnover of $500 million.

Support for apprentice employers

Small businesses with fewer than 20 employees will be eligible for payments of up to $21,000 per apprentice ($7000 each quarter) in wage assistance. To be eligble, you must have had an apprentice, employed under a training contract prior to March 1 of this year. You will be able to register for this subsidy in early April. We will send out more information and contact our registered employers who we know have apprentices to support you through this process.

The payments will subsidise apprentice wages for up to nine months with the aim of keeping them employed.

Support for Casual employees

Prime Minister, Scott Morrison said casual workers who contracted Coronavirus, or had to isolate themselves, would be eligible for a Newstart welfare payment while out of work.

The typical wait time to access the payment will be waived, but people will face an assets test before receiving the money.

Additional support

If you are looking for any additional information or support to understand what these payments can mean for you and your business please contact:

Carla Mellor
Director of Learning and Workforce Capability
0424 692 718 or Carla.mellor@landscapesa.com.au

More information is coming to light each day and as we will ensure we continue to communicate with you with what is most relevant to you and your business.

More detailed information is also available below:

Economic Response To Corona Virus

Cash Flow Assistance for Business

Latest Updates

Quick links