When Federal Parliament next sits, the government is expected to introduce its much anticipated Stimulus Package to help deal with the fallout from the current Coronavirus (or COVID-19) crisis.
The Stimulus Package
The proposed package is said to be worth more than $15 billion. The aim is to provide an immediate boost to the economy by encouraging businesses to spend on equipment and other investments. Businesses that do so will be able to claim an immediate tax break for what they spend. Companies with turnovers of up to $500 million will be able to write off investments up to $150,000.
What does this means for tradies?
The current fear with the Caronavirus, besides health issues, is that the need to have people self-quarantine will lead to a downturn in employment. The government wants to avoid this and is therefore taking action to help employers keep trades people in jobs.
$1.3 billion of the Stimulus Package will be aimed at keeping 120,000 apprentices employed. It will do this by subsidizing half the wages of apprentices over a nine month period. Eligible businesses include those that employ less than 20 full time apprentices and those apprentices must have been employed as of March 1, 2020.
Small businesses that are eligible will be able to claim up to $21,000 per apprentice to keep them in work.
Victoria currently has the second highest number of apprentices in the country so this is welcome news for the state.
What if my employer can’t retain me?
If you’re an apprentice who suddenly finds that your employer can’t keep you in work, there is still incentive for others to employ you. In these cases, new employers will be able to apply for the subsidy.
Advice regarding the Stimulus Package
The Stimulus Package needs to be passed by Parliament before it takes effect so we would advise businesses against rushing in to any purchases until this happens.
We also recommend that all businesses consult with their accountants and where necessary, the Australian Taxation Office, in order to fully understand how the Stimulus Package can assist.
The Trade Institute of Victoria is pleased that the government has signaled it will help to keep much needed apprentices on the job.
How to Guard Against COVID-19
Health officials tell us that this virus will inevitably spread. However, we can lessen its effects by undertaking some simple hygiene and social distancing measures.
We encourage all employees to take note of this advice and would suggest employers not take it for granted that employees know these things. It never hurts to repeat the following suggestions:
Wash your hands: Trades people are out and about and obviously touch many surfaces in their day to day activities. The Caronavirus can survive on a number of surfaces for a period of time. One of its longest life spans is on stainless steel surfaces.
Therefore it is important to always wash hands. While gel sanitizer is great when there is no other option, nothing beats soap and water. Ensure everyone knows that hand washing should be for 20 seconds and hands should be washed in the manner recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Cough and Sneeze into Elbow: Tests have shown that airborne germs can avoid being spread when people cough or sneeze into their elbows. Even tissues are not as effective at preventing the spread of germs.
Don’t shake hands: We’ve been brought up in a culture where shaking hands is a sign of respect and even mateship. However, at the moment we need to take the social distancing measure of not doing this. Nobody should be offended. It’s simply about slowing the spread of COVID-19 and protecting the less vulnerable in our community.
Stay home if unwell: It is imperative that anyone displaying flu like symptoms should stay home from work. Soldiering through a cold and turning up at work, if it turns out to be Caronavirus instead, could have disastrous results for the business.
Limit attendance at large events: The government has taken the step of now banning large gatherings of 500 or more people in a static environment. Further restrictions may follow so everyone will need to keep up to date as events change.