Updated 12 April 2021, 12:00pm
The Federal, Victorian and some local governments have announced measures to help business continue operating and to assist with the recovery process from COVID-19.
Please contact our membership team on 03 8662 5333 or email@example.com if you have any questions, are concerned about workplace relations issues or how to trade through the COVID-19 crisis.
Victoria: Andrews Government support
Business Support Package
Wellbeing and Mental Health Support for Victorian Small Businesses
Victorians can access the mental health support they need to navigate through the impacts of COVID-19. Key elements of the program include accredited mental health training delivered by St John Ambulance and the Partners in Wellbeing telephone hotline - 1300 375 330 - providing free access to one-on-one wellbeing support, business advisers and financial counsellors.
These support services are expected to continue until 2022, with demand and future conditions set to guide further services. Additional program information is available via Business Victoria.
Business recovery and resilience mentoring
The Victorian Chamber is partnering with the Victorian Government to deliver a Business Recovery and Resilience Mentoring Program to help small businesses navigate the economic challenges due to COVID-19. Eligible business owners can receive up to four two-hour mentoring sessions with an experienced professional who will help them make informed decisions about the future of their business.
For more information, please visit our dedicated webpage.
Building digital capacity
The Small Business Digital Adaptation Program will assist sole traders and small businesses in building their digital capability through off-the-shelf digital programs such as Shopify or Square online and workshops designed to help adapt to online operations. Businesses will receive up to $1200. Applications are open from 16 November. More information can be found at Business Victoria.
Virtual Trade Missions will be undertaken in 2020/21 to help connect businesses to global opportunities and help them conduct their international business across digital platforms. Register your interest via Global Victoria.
Further programs will be announced in coming months. To be notified of further announcements, register your interest via Global Victoria.
Unresolved applications for the Business Support Fund
Some businesses have contacted the Victorian Chamber about unresolved applications. If businesses are unable to receive a clear answer from Business Victoria, we recommend that businesses contact the Victorian Small Business Commission and the Victorian Ombudsman.
Payroll tax refund and deferral
Businesses with annual Victorian taxable wages up to $3 million will have their payroll tax for the 2019-20 financial year waived. These businesses can also defer paying payroll tax for the first quarter of the 2020-21 financial year.
An employer whose Victorian taxable wages for the 2019-20 financial year did not exceed $10 million has the option to:
- defer payment of their payroll tax liability for the months of July 2020, August 2020 and September 2020 until 14 January 2021, and
- defer payment of their payroll tax liability for the months of October 2020, November 2020 and December 2020 until 7 March 2021.
Businesses participating in the JobKeeper scheme in Victoria will be exempt from payroll tax and the WorkCover premium on payments to their employees if their staff are currently stood down.
Payments above a part-time employee’s usual salary, due to JobKeeper being a minimum fortnightly payment, will also be exempt from payroll tax and the WorkCover premium.
On 13 September, the Victorian Government announced payroll tax deferrals will be available for the full 2020-21 financial year.
For more information visit sro.vic.gov.au/coronavirus
Licensing, land tax and rent relief
Commercial tenants in government buildings will be offered rent relief, and 2020 land tax payments will be deferred for eligible small businesses with land holdings of less than $1 million in value. The SRO will contact all eligible landowners about this.
If a landlord provides tenants impacted by coronavirus with rent relief, they will be eligible for a 25 per cent discount on their land tax, while any remaining land tax can be deferred until March 2021.
The Victorian Government will also bring forward the 50 per cent stamp duty discount for commercial and industrial property for all of regional Victoria, defer the planned increase in the landfill levy for six months, waive 25 per cent of the Congestion Levy this year with the outstanding balance deferred, liquor license fee waivers for 2021 and waive Vacant Residential Land Tax for vacancies in 2020.
For more information visit sro.vic.gov.au/coronavirus
For more information on liquor licenses visit vcglr.vic.gov.au.
Working for Victoria Fund
Displaced workers will be eligible to apply for different opportunities for paid work and to contribute to Victoria’s ability to manage this event and support the community through the Working for Victoria Fund. The initiative also assists businesses to employ Victorian job seekers who have lost jobs as a result of COVID-19. For information relating to job seekers, click here (PDF download, 37kb). For information relating to businesses, click here, (PDF download, 36kb).
Retrenched Apprentices and Trainees program
The Retrenched Apprentices and Trainees Program aims to assist apprentices and trainees who have lost their employment complete their training.
Employers who have job vacancies for apprentices or trainees can register their interest and will be matched with suitable candidates for you to interview. Employers may also be eligible for Federal Government incentives (such as the Supporting Apprentice and Trainee wage subsidy).
Apprentices and trainees who have lost their employment are encouraged to register their interest in the program. Once on the register, apprentices and trainees will be assisted by one of our program officers until placed with a host employer through a Group Training Organisation (GTO) or directly with an employer.
The Victorian Chamber is supporting the delivery of this program which is being managed by the Apprenticeship Employment Network (AEN).
COVID-19 Test Isolation and Worker Support Payments
If your employees have been instructed by the Department of Health and Human Services to self-isolate or quarantine at home because they are either diagnosed with COVID-19 or are a close contact of a confirmed case, they may be eligible for the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Test Isolation Payment and $1500 Coronavirus (COVID-19) Worker Support Payment.
Federal: Morrison Government support
JobMaker Hiring Credit
The JobMaker Hiring Credit, which was announced earlier this year as part of the Federal 2020-21 Budget, is now open for registrations. The Hiring Credit will be available to eligible employers over 12 months from 7 October 2020 – 6 October 2021 for each additional new job they create for an eligible employee with a maximum amount of $10,400 per additional new position created.
Eligible employers who can demonstrate that the new employee will increase overall employee headcount and payroll can receive:
- $200 per week if they hire an eligible employee aged 16 to 29 years or
- $100 per week if they hire an eligible employee aged 30 to 35 years.
Registrations are now open for employers, with the option to make a claim for the first JobMaker period available from 1 February 2021.
Registrations are available via the ATO online services portal and the Business Portal via the myGov website.
A second phase of this scheme will start on 1 October 2020 and will be available for loans made until 30 June 2021. The details of this second phase can be found here.
Under a Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme, SMEs with a turnover of up to $50 million will be eligible to receive new unsecured loans of up to $250,000 for working capital with the Government guaranteeing 50 per cent of the loan.
How the loan works
Starting 1 April 2020 unsecured loans of up $250,000 per borrower and up to three years, with an initial six-month repayment holiday will be available until 30 September 2020. Borrowers will not have to provide an asset as security for the loan. The Scheme will apply to new or existing customers of banks and non-bank lenders. Lenders will not be charged a fee for accessing the Scheme.
The Government is also providing a six months exemption from responsible lending obligations for lenders providing credit to existing small business customers. This applies to any credit for business purposes, including new credit, credit limit increases and credit variations and restructures.
For more information Read the Government Fact sheet.
Small businesses with existing loans will benefit from the agreement by Australian banks to defer repayments on loans for six months. Bank hardship teams can also assist with business and personal financial arrangements. For more information visit the Australian Banking Association.
Apprentice wage subsidies
Under the Federal Government’s Supporting Apprentices and Trainee (SAT) program, eligible employers can apply for a wage subsidy of 50 per cent of an eligible apprentice or trainee’s wages paid until 31 March 2021.
Subsidies will also be available to any new employer who re-engages an eligible apprentice that was displaced by an eligible small or medium sized business.
- Your small business may be eligible if:
- you employ fewer than 20 people; or
- you are a small business with fewer than 20 people, using a Group Training Organisation; and
- the apprentice or trainee was undertaking an Australian Apprenticeship with you on 1 July 2020 for claims after this date.
- Your medium-sized business may be eligible if:
- you employ fewer than 200 people; or
- you are a medium business with fewer than 200 people, using a Group Training Organisation; and
- the apprentice or trainee was undertaking an Australian Apprenticeship with you on 1 July 2020.
- Any employer (including all small, medium or large businesses and Group Training Organisations) who re-engages an apprentice or trainee displaced from an eligible small or medium business may also be eligible for the subsidy.
Claims from small businesses are now open, while claims from medium-sized businesses will open on 1 October 2020. Final claims for payment must be lodged by 30 June 2021.
Register now by contacting the Victorian Chamber’s Apprenticeship Support Australia team.
For more information on eligibility criteria visit the Federal Government’s Department of Education, Skills and Employment Supporting Apprentices and Trainees website.
Boosting Apprenticeship Commencement
The $1.2 billion Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements wage subsidy will support businesses and Group Training Organisations (GTOs) to take on new apprentices and trainees, to build a pipeline of skilled workers to support sustained economic recovery.
Any businesses or GTO that engages an apprentice or trainee on or after 5 October 2020 may be eligible for a subsidy of 50 per cent of wages paid to an apprentice between 5 October 2020 and 30 September 2021, to a maximum of $7,000 per quarter. This program is available for existing workers under specific circumstances.
Further information on eligibility and additional information can be found at the Department of Education, Skills and Employment website. To register for this program contact the Victorian Chamber’s Apprenticeship Support Australia team.
To lessen the threat of actions that could unnecessarily push otherwise profitable and viable businesses into insolvency and help ensure businesses can resume normal operations when the crisis has passed, are the following temporary measures:
- Relief for directors from any personal liability for trading while insolvent
- Increasing the threshold for creditors issuing a statutory demand on a company from $2,000 to $20,000 and extending the timeframe for a company to respond from 21 days to six months
- Increasing the threshold for a creditor to initiate bankruptcy proceedings from $5,000 to $20,000 and extending the time period for debtors to respond to a bankruptcy notice from 21 days to six months and extending the period of protection a debtor receives after declaring an intention to enter voluntary bankruptcy from 21 days to six months
- Providing temporary flexibility in the Corporations Act 2001 to provide targeted relief for companies from provisions of the Act to deal with unforeseen events that arise as a result of the Coronavirus health crisis.
For more information Read the Government Fact sheet
Help from the ATO
The ATO will tailor solutions for owners or directors of business that are currently struggling due to the Coronavirus, including deferring payments, varying pay as you go instalment amounts and refunding past instalments, withholding enforcement actions including Director Penalty Notices and wind-ups.
Contact the ATO on 1800 806 218 or visit the ATO website at ato.gov.au for more information.
Backing business investment
Businesses with turnover of less than $500 million are eligible for an expanded instant asset write-off for asset investments of up to $150,000. The threshold applies on per asset basis, so businesses can immediately write-off multiple assets.
They can also access a 15-month investment incentive by accelerating depreciation deductions. For more information Read the Government Fact sheet
The Government has temporarily expanded eligibility for income support payments – including JobSeeker Payment.
In addition, the temporary Coronavirus Supplement of $250 per fortnight is available until 31 December 2020.
Further information can be found through the Treasury’s website.
See the Victorian Chamber’s Income support webpage with further information for sole traders and self-employed contractors or for employees who’ve been terminated, made redundant, stood down without pay, moved from full time to casual or had their hours of work reduced.
Bank loans and repayments
Australian banks have agreed to defer repayments on loans to small businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak for six months. They also have hardship teams ready to assist you with your business and personal financial arrangements, depending on your circumstances. Visit the Australian Banking Association website for more information.
Local government measures
City of Melbourne
The City of Melbourne has released a local economic stimulus package to support city businesses affected by COVID-19. The package includes the suspension of fees for street trading permits, halving rent for eligible tenants in Council owned buildings and rates hardship support.
For immediate support, contact the Business Concierge Service on 9658 9658 (press 1 for Business Concierge), or visit City of Melbourne Business for more information.
Find out how your local government can assist
Local governments across the state are doing what they can to support businesses and local communities at this time. To find out how your council can help your business, please visit www.viccouncils.asn.au/find-your-council
If financial or social challenges are making it hard to manage toll payments, Linkt can help. Their confidential support is adapted to your changing needs, head to the website to find out more.
Tools and resources
We will update the information available here as more detail becomes available. Please check back often.