This has been a challenging few months for most businesses. Despite the chaos, you might be unaware that there are several opportunities available from a legal standpoint to help position yourself for recovery and growth.
At this stage, you have probably heard a considerable amount of talk regarding JobKeeper. Consider taking advantage of the JobKeeper program, which provides a $1,500 subsidy per fortnight per eligible employee, if you meet the requirements. We have outlined this process in a previous blog post here.
Alternatively, you may want to consider the new employer discretion to issue a JobKeeper Enabling Stand Down Direction. This gives you greater flexibility to vary an employee’s hours of work, type of work, days of work and even to request that employee take annual leave – all things that were previously not possible. Again, we have detailed this in a previous blog post here and provided a template letter to use.
It is very likely that conflicts will arise during this uncertain period of time. We note that if you have issued a JobKeeper Enabling Stand Down Direction, and that direction meets all validity requirements, an employee is obliged to comply. A failure to comply is grounds for disciplinary action. Additionally, while there are certainly benefits to the JobKeeper program, it is entirely a business decision whether or not you participate in the scheme and is not mandatory. Employees cannot demand that you participate.
New Leasing Laws
There have been Regulations issued which allow for a range of options for relief for tenants under eligible leases such as:
- To structure a rent relief arrangement.
- protection against termination of a lease for non-payment of rent during the Relevant Period.
- To prevent Landlords from undertaking rent increases during the COVID-19 Period
- The ability to negotiate an extension of the lease.
We have detailed this in a previous blog post here.
We have been assisting clients to negotiate rent arrangements under the COVID-19 legislation and strongly recommend appropriately documenting any agreement.
Health and Safety
As the Government restrictions slowly ease over the coming months, it is important to continue to meet your obligations in keeping employees and customers safe. Implementing screening procedures, keep employees informed about best practices and hygiene processes.
We have published a number of resources to help you navigate the reopening, including retail store hygiene guidelines and an infographic for the Retail Recovery Protocol which provides helpful tips for your stores, available here.