As business owners are trying to navigate the future of their business due to COVID-19, finding the right information can be difficult. This blog will contain free resources for business owners to use to help their business during this period and will be updated regularly with the latest developments.
If you need assistance with your business due to the impacts of COVID-19 you can get in contact with Principal Lawyer, Emilia Cardillo by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Commercial Leases – National Code of Conduct
On 7 April 2020, a mandatory national Code of Conduct was released which sets out key leasing principles for commercial tenancies which includes retail, office and industrial space.
A copy of the Code of Conduct can be found here.
You can also read our summary of the Code in our article “Mandatory Code of Conduct for Commercial Leases“.
Employment Law and COVID-19
For any business with employees, there are many questions about what you should be doing about your employees during this time. Employment law is governed by Federal legislation so the laws apply the same across all of Australia.
The Fair Work Ombudsman has created a dedicated website for questions about employment law and the impact of COVID-19.
Some of the questions include, “can employees be stood down without pay”, “what if an employer needs to let employees go” and many more.
Employees and Work Health & Safety
If you’re workplace is permitted to continue to trade during this period, employers will also need to ensure that the increased risks presented by COVID-19 are managed in the workplace.
There are two aspects to these changes to health and safety, firstly, if employees are working from home, the obligations of providing a safe work environment still apply and secondly, employers that retain employees to continue to work at their usual place of employment will need to ensure their work practices comply with Government health orders.
Safe Work Australia is an excellent resource to find up to date information on health and safety obligations during this time and a dedicated COVID-19 information page has been established.
You can access the latest information from Safe Work Australia here.
Government Support for Business Owners
The Australian Government has created a website detailing the support being provided to business owners. Information includes details on the current restrictions, support available for sole traders, companies and eligibility requirements for stimulus packages.
You can access the information from Business Australia here.
The NSW Government has also introduced a $10,000 Grant for NSW Small Businesses impacted by COVID-19. Applications for the grant will open from 17 April 2020 until 1 June 2020. Information on the eligibility criteria can be found here.
The most recent round of Government stimulus includes the new JobKeeper Payments. This is a payment which will subsidise the wages of employees and sole traders subject to certain eligibility requirements.
The Government has announced measures will be introduced to ensure that commercial tenants cannot be evicted from their premises due to a failure to pay rent if they are unable to do so as a result of the impacted by COVID-19.
This has not yet been formalised in legislation as of 2 April 2020 however, the Government is urging landlords and tenants to work on finding solutions in the meantime. You can read more about the Government’s position here.
You can also check our blog for some of our recent articles on what type of rent relief to negotiate with your landlord – Rent Negotiation and COVID-19.
Public Health Orders
The current Public Health Orders make it a requirement for people in NSW to stay at home unless they are going to:
- work (where that work can’t be done remotely from home);
- school or an educational institution;
- shop for food and essentials;
- get medical care or supplies
Aside from the above reasons, there are a ‘reasonable excuses’ for leaving home which include to:
- to avoid injury or escape risk of harm;
- access childcare;
- provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person;
- access social services or employment services;
Further information on the current Public Health Orders can be found here.
The Public Health (COVID-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order 2020 can be accessed here.