This week Joe gives an update on the most recent Job Seeker stimulus package announced by the government in response to the COVID-19 situation.
Current as of writing 27/03/2020
While there have been several stimulus packages announced by local, state and federal governments, I don’t believe that several of the measures will provide a cash injection into businesses in a timely manner. Some businesses are already closed or operating at a significantly reduced capacity. With little or no income coming in, they will face challenges in paying ongoing costs as well as employee entitlements.
At the time of writing this, there are no additional stimulus items that relate directly to keeping employees engaged. Through the Gladstone Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and as a small business owner myself, I am lobbying all levels of governments to add to the current stimulus packages available and incentivise employers to retain employees for as long as they can. It is essential that we keep as many people possible employed to ensure the economic impact of COVID 19 is limited to the best extent we can. State government could also help by changing the back to work employment incentives to include a retain employees element. This essentially brings forward the back to work incentive as people will be re-employed after we get through the current situation.
Another thing that I would like to see implemented is faster access to government benefits for employees who’ve been stood down or laid off. The Centrelink system is simply unable to cope with the volume of applications they’re receiving and people should not be standing together in long queues at the Centrelink offices. As the ATO have significantly invested towards improving their IT systems and, for example having Single Touch Payroll Reporting in place, I believe that there is an option to use this to issue payments to employees no longer receiving wages. The ATO have bank details for almost everyone and this could be used to get funds to people in a timelier manner.
To finish on a positive note, many local businesses have been innovating and adapting existing business models to deliver products and services to consumers. I would urge you to support these and all other small businesses as much as you can in these testing times so they can continue to operate in spite of the situation at hand.