23 March - COVID-19 Updated Statement to Employer Members

Posted on Mar 24, 2020

PLEASE NOTE: The latest information regarding COVID-19 Payments is available here.

I want to reassure you that Incolink continues to support you during these uncertain times.

The building and construction industry is continuing to operate as normal, and until advised by Government, work will be able to continue.

I’d like to outline the support available to you, the new COVID-19 payment that will be available from Incolink to eligible workers from the end of the week, as well as changes to our operations largely to move us to online and phone only.

The support available to workers (in addition to Government support below) is:

  • Any long service leave they have and can access through CoINVEST
  • The ability for those in hardship to draw down on their superannuation via the ATO
  • Unemployment benefits enhanced under new Government arrangements
  • COVID-19 payment from Incolink detailed below

Financial Support available from the Victorian & Australian Governments

Governments have announced a range of primary measures for employers and individuals affected by the crisis including cash payments to keep the employment of apprentices.

I would urge you to look at the following links and to see the various schemes available to you as there are a large variety of payments, deferrals, relief from Director duties and other initiatives designed to support business to continue to operate in these times.

The goal of these payments is to keep businesses going and keep workers employed as much as possible. We know this may not be possible but if you can access these payments and keep your workers working that will help them and our economy.

  • Supplier invoices from the Victorian Government are being paid early - within the next 5 days.
  • For employers with eligible payroll up to $3million, payroll tax is being refunded for the 2019/20 financial year and you’ll be contacted by the State Revenue Office if you are due a refund. You’ll also be able to defer the first three months of payroll tax for the 2020/21 financial year. Find out more here.
  • You can also encourage your workers to sign up for work through the Victorian Government. More information here.

The Australian Government is also providing significant support including cash payments to businesses.You can see your eligibility here.

The payments by the Australian Government are significant and include:

  • Cash payments for small to medium businesses. This is the largest part of the package. All employing small businesses will receive at least $20,000, and larger businesses will receive up to $100,000.
  • The ability to withdraw super, for those who are facing coronavirus-led financial hardship. Those eligible will be able to draw down $10,000 of their super this financial year, and $10,000 next financial year. This can be undertaken through the ATO.
  • An effective doubling of income support for those on the JobSeeker payment. The payment, formerly known as Newstart, will be supplemented with an additional $550 per fortnight, bringing it to a total of $1,100 per fortnight. This will also apply to, for example, sole traders who have found their work has dried up due to the coronavirus. The assets test and the waiting period have been abolished. The income test still applies. Find out more here.
  • More money into the financial system. In addition to an injection of $105 billion, with the intention of increasing the availability of credit, the government is offering guarantees. Find out more here.
  • Increased flexibility in insolvency and bankruptcy law. This includes increasing the threshold at which a creditor can pursue insolvency proceedings – from $2,000 to $20,000 – and giving people up to six months to respond, in comparison the current 21 days. Most significantly, businesses will be able to trade while insolvent.

Incolink COVID-19 Payment

Some people may be affected by COVID-19 and/ or be unable to work. To be eligible for the payment, worker members must not be earning wages or income from any other source including unemployment benefits, insurance, WorkCover, statutory leave entitlement pay including sick leave and are not covered by PSLi. Those supports should therefore be workers first line of economic defense, but where they are not available, Incolink’s COVID-19 payments will be in place.

The payment will be $2000, which the ATO requires us to tax at 47% and will be available to members by Friday this week. They will be claimable via Workerlink only, not the app or paper.

There are strict criteria that need to be met in order to be eligible for a COVID-19 payment:

  1. The employer must first complete a declaration via EmployerLink to confirm the worker meets the eligibility criteria;
  2. The worker member is not earning an income because of site closures by their employer in direct response to COVID-19; or because the worker member is required by a medical professional to self-isolate due to exposure to COVID-19 for any period prescribed by federal or state governments; and
  3. They are not earning wages or income from any other source including without limitation insurance payments, WorkCover, statutory leave entitlement pay (incl sick leave) and are not covered by PSLi

Incolink will confirm with employers when this payment is ready to be paid.

Incolink’s operations

As I indicated on Friday I am advising of changes to our service. While we’ll continue to support you on the phone and by email our office at Pelham Street will soon close, except for a skeleton staff who can take claims.

We will continue to provide critical incident response on site, within health guidelines.

Our counselling services will also continue over the phone and by Skype

After hours phone counselling remains available via 1300 000 129.

As previously advised, we have suspended our Incolink Bus which provides health and skin checks on site as well as Bluehats general awareness sessions on site and Bluehats training at Pelham Street in Carlton.

While COVID-19 is causing changes across society we are keeping business as usual going as much as we can. As the Government is also reviewing the situation daily things might change. Our promise to you is to stay in touch and provide updates regularly.

If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact us on 03 9639 3000 or visit us at incolink.org.au. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn for latest updates.

If you want to speak to someone in your language you can call 1300 462 654

For general health advice on COVID-19 you can call the Vic Government hotline on 1800 675 398 or check out their website.

I will continue to stay in touch and provide updates.

Erik Locke
CEO

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