Handling staffing issues during a lockdown

The new and more severe lockdown restrictions for Sydney has created enormous upheavals for business owners, managers and staff. It’s the toughest one we have experienced so far with many industries required to restrict their operations.

But this time it will probably feel harder for business owners because the national supports like JobKeeper aren’t available. So here’s a snapshot of what you and your staff need to know:

  1. Employees need to apply directly for income support

Workers who are unable to earn an income due to the NSW lockdowns can apply to receive:

  • $325 for the first 2 weeks if they have lost between 8-20 hours of work per week (or one full day of usual work hours). This increases to $375 for the third and subsequent weeks for this group.
  • $500 for the first 2 weeks if they have lost more than 20 hours of work per week. This increases to $600 for the third and subsequent weeks for this group.

These payments will begin the week following lodgement of the application.

Claims for the week beginning 1 July must be submitted before 28 July so encourage your staff to apply as soon as possible to reduce the impacts of financial distress.

To apply for income support, employees must visit the Services Australia website. Here’s the link to the page which provides comprehensive information – including other websites which have more information. Significantly, to apply for income support payments, your staff will need a MyGov account. It’s easy to set up if they don’t have one already.

  1. Multiple supports for business

The government has put in place a number of grants and supports for business. A great place to begin looking is COVID-19 help for business on the Service NSW website. There are several supports available – depending on the size of your business and the impact it experiences. They even offer a Concierge Service and an option to receive notifications about current and upcoming financial supports.

We recommend asking your Finance Department, Accountant or Bookkeeper to assist you in navigating the system as you need to demonstrate “the decline in turnover experienced during the restrictions”.

  1. Your duty of care and other legal responsibilities

If your business is unable to operate at all due to the COVID-19 shutdown, you may be able to stand down your employees. However, care needs to be taken. Under the Fair Work Act, an employer cannot stand down employees because of a decline in business. In addition, you can’t force staff to take annual leave.

To explore your options, get in touch with us. We’ll chat to you about your circumstances and provide specific advice on your options.

As always, employers are responsible for the health and safety of their employees and that includes their mental wellbeing. Ensure you and your leadership team (if you have one) check in with each member of staff to monitor their mental health and provide assistance to support them during the lockdown.

This doesn’t need to be time consuming. In fact, it may be as simple as helping someone set up a MyGov account, assistance to complete the application for income support or simply having a virtual coffee and a chat. You’ll probably find your effort to check in with your staff will produce a happy and motivated team.

For practical assistance and a value driven approach to managing your team, get in touch with End2end Business Solutions on 02 8977 4002.