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Update for members and Australian turf industry - 30th March

Monday 30, Mar 2020

 

The team at the Australian Sports Turf Managers Association will continue to focus on providing updates and communication for the industry as we work through continually changing information, advice and requirements across each State.

We have attempted to keep the information as updated as possible without overloading many during a time of exceptionally large volumes of information; however we are also aware the State and Federal directions change rapidly in this fluid environment. 

This member update is being cascaded in response to 2 items of importance for turf managers:

  • Important update on the 30th March 2020 from the Federal Government regarding wage support for businesses.  Information on this payment is listed below under JobKeeper Payment.  
  • A large number of turf managers seeking answers to similar information over the past few days.  This information has been developed into the below

 

Turf Industry Update 

As mentioned late last week, recent efforts from the Association have been (in co-ordination with State Associations, State and National Sporting Organisations and local bodies), appealing to Federal and State governments that in the event of a full lockdown, exemptions be provided to allow staff at turf facilities (including stadiums, golf courses, racing, bowls, lawn tennis and others) to tend to the maintenance of the course and/or surfaces during any proposed lockdown period. 

This has been supported by tremendous efforts from individual members, Clubs, industry Supporters and Trade Partners among many others, informing governments at all level of the potential impacts to and importance of our turf management industry.  I would also like to acknowledge the efforts from the team at Golf Australia and their aligned State Golf Associations alongside those from the GMA, PGA and many others, for their hard work in updating the industry in supporting advocacy efforts.  

We maintain approach to both Federal and State governments to ensure that in the event of a further increase in restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, turf management staff are able to continue to access facilities to maintain the playing surfaces.


 
Important Advice and Support Information for Sports Turf Managers

Importantly for Australian Sports Turf Managers Association Members, the Federal Government announced an additional wage stimulus package this evening, 30th March 2020.  

  • As this package provides for a payment / subsidy of employee wages, the Australian Sports Turf Managers Association encourages all members of the Turf industry to contact their Employer and discuss this as soon as practical.  In many instances, this may result in reinstatement of position to the facility with a portion of wages paid by the Federal Government.  

For advice or further information on this payment, please contact the Australian Sports Turf Managers Association
 
Frequently Asked Questions

Over the last weeks we have fielded a very large number of enquiries relating to advice or assistance following Government updates and directions, from members and the broader industry seeking support at a very challenging time. 

The following provides an update and access to relevant information to assist Sports Turf Managers.  Please ensure that you review the advice, and contact the Australian Sports Turf Managers Association with any further requests for clarity or support.

In response to a large volume of questions for this type of support, we have compiled the following FAQ information to assist Sports Turf Managers:

 

What support is available for individuals stood down or unemployed recently as a result of COVID-19?

1. JobKeeper Payment

Announced by the Federal Government on the evening of 30th March 2020, the 3rd instalment of Federal Government support for individuals and businesses included a JobKeeper Payment.

Under the JobKeeper Payment, businesses impacted by the Coronavirus will be able to access a wage subsidy from the Government to continue paying their employees. Affected employers will be able to claim a fortnightly payment of $1,500 per eligible employee from 30 March 2020, for a maximum of 6 months.

Eligible employees will receive a minimum of $1,500 per fortnight, before tax. It will be up to the employer if they want to pay superannuation on any additional wage paid because of JobKeeper Payments.

Full time and part time employees, including stood down employees, would be eligible for the JobKeeper Payment. Where a casual employee has been with their employer for at least the previous 12 months they will also be eligible for the Payment.

Important notes: 

Employees will be able to receive this payment in a number of different ways:

  • If you have been stood down, your employer must pay you, at a minimum, $1,500 per fortnight, before tax.
  • If you were employed on 1 March 2020, subsequently ceased employment (e.g were stood down) and then were re-engaged by the same eligible employer, you will receive, at a minimum, $1,500 per fortnight, before tax. 

Employers will be eligible for the subsidy if:

  • their business has a turnover of less than $1 billion and their turnover will be reduced by more than 30 per cent relative to a comparable period a year ago (of at least a month); or
  • their business has a turnover of $1 billion or more and their turnover will be reduced by more than 50 per cent relative to a comparable period a year ago (of at least a month); and
  • the business is not subject to the Major Bank Levy.

Example:

Jill works as a Qualified Sports Turf Manager for a golf course, but as the Club has significantly reduced income due to closing Clubhouse, Food & Beverage services and playing rounds have been impacted, she has been stood down by the Club under the Fair Work Act without pay. 

After being stood down, Jill had registered an intent to claim with Services Australia for access to the JobSeeker Payment and the Coronavirus Supplement.

Jill is single, with no children and in total she would be eligible to receive $1,124.50 before tax per fortnight from Services Australia.  Jill’s employer has decided to apply for the JobKeeper Payment for all eligible employees for up to six months. This would entitle Jill to $1,500 per fortnight before tax. Jill’s employer is required to advise her that she has been nominated as an eligible employee to receive the payment.

If Jill elects to receive income support though Services Australia, she will need to report her income from the JobKeeper Payment to Services Australia. Jill may no longer be eligible for income support from Services Australia as a result of receiving the JobKeeper Payment.

More information for Income support for individuals:  Treasury Fact Sheet for JobKeeper Payment
 
2. COVID-19 Supplement

The Government is providing support for individuals to assist them during the next six months.  The Government is temporarily expanding eligibility to income support payments and establishing a new, time-limited Coronavirus supplement to be paid at a rate of $550 per fortnight.

This supplement will be paid to both existing and new recipients of the eligible payment categories. These changes will apply for the next six months.

Example

Jack is in his mid-40s, with two dependent children, and works as a turf tradesperson at a stadium. The Coronavirus has caused the stadium where he works to close for an indefinite period, and resulted in Jack’s hours being reduced to zero. 

Jack will be eligible to apply for JobSeeker Payment and the Coronavirus supplement under the new streamlined process.  Jack can apply online and make a declaration about his identity, residency status, income and that his hours have been reduced to zero as a result of the Coronavirus.

Jack is eligible for Jobseeker Payment and will receive $1,171.50 per fortnight, comprising:

  • JobSeeker Payment single, with dependent child rate of $612.00 per fortnight; plus
  • Energy supplement of $9.50 per fortnight; plus
  • Coronavirus supplement of $550 per fortnight.

Jack will also receive Family Tax Benefit Part A and Part B of $483 a fortnight.

More information for Income support for individuals: Treasury Fact Sheet for JobSeeker Payment
 
 
What is the early access to Superannuation program?

The Government is allowing individuals affected by the Coronavirus to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in 2019-20 and a further $10,000 in 2020-21.  
Eligible individuals will be able to apply online through myGov to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation before 1 July 2020. They will also be able to access up to a further $10,000 from 1 July 2020 until 24 September 2020.

To apply for early release you must satisfy any one or more of the following requirements:

  • you are unemployed; or
  • you are eligible to receive a job seeker payment, youth allowance for jobseekers, parenting payment (which includes the single and partnered payments), special benefit or farm household allowance; or
  • your working hours were reduced by 20 per cent or more

More information for early access to Superannuation: Treasury Fact Sheet for Superannuation Access
 

The following is advice from the Fair Work Commission relating to employment requirements during this time: 
 
What is a stand down?

A stand down is when an employee can't do useful work because of:

  • equipment break down, if the employer isn't responsible for it
  • industrial action, when it's not organised by the employer
  • stoppage of work for which the employer can't be held responsible, including severe and inclement weather or natural disasters.

Employers can't stand an employee down just because the business is quiet or there isn't enough work. Some awards, agreements and contracts have extra rules about when an employer can stand down an employee without pay. 

An employer can't stand down an employee if they are on approved leave.

During a stand down period, an employee:

  • doesn't need to be paid
  • does accrues leave in the usual way

Employees are encouraged to discuss using Leave options during any period of Stand Down with their employers
 
When can an employee be stood down without pay?

Under the Fair Work Act, there is a provision to temporarily stand down an employee without pay for a period of time.

The Act states an employer may stand down an employee during a period in which the employee cannot usefully be employed because there is a stoppage of work for any cause for which the employer cannot reasonably be held responsible.

To fulfil the option of standing down employees, the employer must be able to demonstrate that:

  • There is a stoppage of work; and
  • The employees to be stood down cannot be usefully employed (which is not limited to the work an employee usually performs); and
  • The cause of the stoppage must also be one that the employer cannot reasonably be held responsible for

If an employer unlawfully stands down employees without pay, the employees will likely be able to recover unpaid wages.

Employers cannot generally stand down employees simply because of a deterioration of business conditions or because the employee has coronavirus.

Some examples of when employers may be able to stand down employees include:

  • If there was an enforceable government direction requiring the business to close (which means there is no work for the employees to do, even from another location)
  • If a large proportion of the workforce was required to self-quarantine with the result that the remaining employees/workforce cannot usefully be employed
  • If there was a stoppage of work due to lack of supply for which the employer could not be held responsible

Enterprise agreements and employment contracts with a stand-down clause can have different or extra rules about when an employer can stand down employees without pay.  Employees accrue leave as normal if stood down.

Other options that an employer may consider instead of a stand-down include:

  • Seeking employees’ agreement to take paid (or combining unpaid) leave for a period
  • In limited circumstances, directing employees to take paid annual leave
  • In limited circumstances, negotiating with employees to change regular rosters or hours of work

 

What is an enforceable government direction at a workplace?

Where the Commonwealth or a State or Territory Government makes an enforceable government order or direction (enforceable government direction) under a law which either prevents an employee from attending their workplace or to temporarily closing down that workplace, and it is not possible for the employee to perform work at another location, an employer can direct the employee not to attend the workplace.

 
For advice or further information on this information, please contact the Australian Sports Turf Managers Association.