FCW Lawyers

COVID-19 Daily Brief | 24 March 2020



Over the weekend the Federal government announced an economic stimulus package worth $189 billion being implemented into the economy to keep Australians in work and businesses in business.

Small to medium enterprises (SME)

To boost cashflow for SME employers there is $100,00 available to eligible SME (aggregated annual turnover under $50 million) and not-for-profit including charities that employ people, with a minimum payment of $20,000. Furthermore lenders will have the ability to provide credit to SMEs which will allow SMEs to get access to credit faster and banks to support SMEs with their existing loans.

Other payments available to businesses

From 28 April 2020, employers will receive a payment equal to 100 per cent of their salary and wages withheld, with a minimum of $10,000 and a maximum of $50,000, as an incentive to hold on to more of their workers.

From 28 July 2020, eligible entities will receive an additional payment equal to the total of all the boosting cash flow for the employers received. This means that eligible entities will receive at least $20,000 and up to a total of $100,000 under both payments.

The payments are tax-free.

Non-essential definition

In light of the announcement to prohibit the operation of non-essential businesses, the Victorian government released the following definitions of non-essential business or undertaking:

  • Pub, Bar or Club that supplies alcohol under general licence, an on-premises licence or club licence, but not any part of the business constituted by a bottle shop;
  • Hotel – but not accommodation, takeaway meals or a meal delivery services or any part of the hotel constituted by a bottle shop;
  • a gym;
  • an indoor sporting centre;
  • a casino;
  • a cinema, nightclub or entertainment venue of any kind;
  • a restaurant or cafe – take away or a meal delivery service permitted; and
  • places of worship, other than for purposes of a wedding or funeral.

The penalties for non-compliance are as follows:

  • For a natural person 120 penalty units;
  • For a body corporate 600 penalty units;

However if a person has a reasonable excuse for refusing or failing to comply they will not be found guilty.

It is likely that the stage 2 closure of businesses is less than 2 weeks away and this means the definition between essential and non-essential will change dramatically. We strongly recommend that businesses contact Andrew Douglas on 0488 151 503 to review how to stand-down employees.