COSBOA today notes that the extension of JobKeeper (or “JobKeeper 2.0”) has been legislated, including the temporary changes to the Fair Work Act (2009).
This is sensible and welcome and will provide some certainty for the next 6 months.
COSBOA CEO Peter Strong said “well done to the Government for providing this unprecedented assistance. I’m sure there will be some challenges to face and some quirks to figure out, but overall, this is a good thing.”
Mr Strong added “we have reached the month of September and the COVID-19 crisis isn’t over. In Victoria, it’s far from over. I think most people would agree that the emergency assistance measures need to remain in place for longer.
“If the Government is going to mandate that businesses in certain sectors close or even that businesses let in fewer customers in order to maintain social distancing, then it needs to continue providing financial assistance to those affected businesses."
Mr Strong further added “While it’s not without its quirks and complications, JobKeeper has been a huge help for small businesses and their staff. Many COSBOA member associations have called it a ‘lifeline’ for businesses in their industries.”
COSBOA also knows that the majority of small business owners care about the well-being of their staff and don’t want to see them suffer.
Mr Strong said “the last thing most small business people want to do is have to sack their staff because they don’t have the money to pay them – these are people they see every day and get to know really well, even become good friends with. One of the great things about JobKeeper has been knowing your staff will have the money they need to get by in this time of crisis while still staying connected to your business.”
Extending the IR flexibility provisions that allow employers to direct their staff to perform different duties and work fewer hours is also essential. COSBOA is very glad that this was also legislated.
Mr Strong said “the feedback from COSBOA’s members has been that the IR provisions associated with JobKeeper are very necessary and a relief. As affected businesses are forced to ‘pivot’ to stay profitable, they need to be able to tell their staff to do different things at work to what they’d normally do - think of retail businesses operating online and restaurants and cafes offering food delivery services, for example.
“Businesses also need to be able to reduce staff hours as the amount of work there is to do drops off because of the pandemic, so it’s great that they will still be able to do so. Reducing staff hours is much better than the only other choice, which is to retrench them.”
Mr Strong added “thank you to the crossbench senators who supported this.”
Finally, COSBOA recognises that there are some industries for which JobKeeper isn’t going to be enough and that will require additional support of some kind.
Mr Strong said “there are once-viable small businesses out there in particularly hard-hit industries like live entertainment and tourism that have experienced a 100% drop in revenue, or close to that. This is much bigger than the 30% drop required to access JobKeeper. We really feel for them and strongly recommend that the Government does more, particularly around access to finance, to assist them in getting through this challenging time.”