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WA Business Assistance Packages

WA Business Assistance Packages

WA State border controls have finally come to an end, allowing interstate and international travellers to enter Western Australia once again. As the state battles the Omicron outbreak, the McGowan government has introduced a comprehensive Level 2 WA Business Assistance Package to support businesses impacted by the latest public health and social measures, following the Level 1 Package announced in recent weeks. Also announced was the Critical Worker Furloughing Policy to ensure the impact to supply chains and services is minimised as COVID case numbers in WA hit their peak. Assistance measures and packages may change over time, particularly if and when public health and social measures are upgraded – including the very high caseload settings implemented on 10 March. When they do, we will provide updates on the News Page of the McKinley Plowman website. The impact of state border controls ceasing will be felt across many businesses, so please read on to find out more on how your business may be affected by recent announcements.

Critical Worker Furloughing Policy

To ensure that critical supply chains and service continue in a high caseload environment, the WA Government has released a Critical Worker Furloughing Policy. Note the policy is now active as of Thursday 10 March 2022, and has been implemented as WA is experiencing a very high COVID-19 caseload. Per the Policy, a critical worker is defined as:

For the purposes of the exemption to attend work as an asymptomatic close contact during their isolation period, a critical worker is someone who cannot work from home, and performs work that is:

  • Critical to the COVID-19 response; or
  • Critical to the continuation of critical services that prevent significant harm (including loss of life, catastrophic impacts to safety or welfare or lack of access to essential goods) to any person or the community; or
  • Necessary to the safe continuation of services in an eligible industry
  • Requires specialist skills in an eligible industry.”

In order to attend work under this policy, employees that satisfy the above definition must be fully vaccinated (including a booster if eligible), asymptomatic, and provide a daily negative Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) result. Their attendance at work is voluntary, and must be agreed upon in consultation with their employer. Furthermore, there will be requirements to be met by both the workplace and employee before and while exercising the exemption.

Employers must register their workplace’s critical roles with the WA Government in order to take advantage of this policy upon its activation, and those registrations are open now via this link. Note that health care services are not covered by the COVID Transition (Critical Worker) Directions, and are subject to separate furloughing guidance. Therefore, they are not required to register under this policy.

Some of the industries that may have employees applicable to the Critical Worker Furloughing Policy are:

  • Transport, freight, and logistics (including public transport)
  • Food, beverage and pharmaceutical manufacturing, supply, and retailing (excludes hospitality venues such as pubs, cafes and bars)
  • Petrol stations and truck stops
  • Agriculture
  • Critical resources, power, utilities, and waste management services
  • Building and construction
  • Corrective and judicial services
  • Police and Emergency Services
  • Schools and childcare
  • Health Care Services
  • Social assistance and residential care
  • Veterinary services
  • Funeral, crematorium, and cemetery services
  • Defence

It is important to note that not everyone or every position in these industries will be covered under the Policy.

If you are running a business that falls in any of the industries listed above, then it is important to consider the possible impact of COVID-19 on your business and the broader Western Australian population. Western Australia is rapidly progressing through uncharted waters and if you think that Critical Worker Registration may apply to your business then you can find more information here.

WA Business Assistance Packages – The Details

The current Level 2 COVID-19 Business Assistance Package includes a $66.8 million Small Business Hardship Grants Program, $2.8 million of payroll tax relief for large hospitality businesses, and $2.1 million for a COVID-19 Commercial Sporting Franchises Support Program. The Level 1 COVID-19 Business Assistance Package announced in recent weeks brought in a Small Business Rental Relief Package, Outdoor Dining and Entertainment Support Package and further Small Business Financial Counselling and Advisory Services funding.

Here are some critical details of one of the measures announced in late 2021 that affects many small businesses:

Small Business Assistance Grant – December 2021

  • Application Status: Open via https://smallbusiness.smartygrants.com.au/AGP
  • Eligible Industries: Hospitality; Music Events; Creative & Performing Arts
  • Applicable Regions: Perth; Peel; Rottnest
  • Eligibility Criteria: Annual Turnover of more than $50,000; Valid and Active ABN; Payroll of less than $4 million in 2020-21 Financial Year; Reduction in turnover by more than 30%
  • Grant Value: $1,130 for each impacted day to a maximum of $12,500 for employing businesses OR $400 for each impacted day to a maximum of $4,400 for non-employing businesses
  • Next Steps: https://smallbusiness.smartygrants.com.au/AGP

LEVEL 1 COVID-19 WA Business Assistance Package (Announced Thursday 24 February 2022)

Small Business Rental Relief Package

Tenant Relief Scheme

  • Application Status: Applications will be available from Friday 11 March 2022 via https://www.smallbusiness.wa.gov.au/coronavirus/grants#level-1-covid-19-business-assistance-package
  • Eligible Industries: Small Business Tenants
  • Applicable Regions: Western Australia
  • Eligibility Criteria: Annual Turnover of more than $50,000; Valid and Active ABN; Payroll of less than $4 million in 2020-21 Financial Year; Reduction in turnover by more than 30% for any 6-week consecutive timeframe between 01/01/2022 and 30/04/2022 compared to the equivalent period in 2021; Provide proof of tenancy (lease) in WA (excluding Government tenants)
  • Grant Value: $3,000

Landlord Rent Relief Incentive

Tenant Rental Credit Scheme (Government Tenants)

  • Application Status: Automatically generated by applicable Government Body
  • Eligible Industries: Business Tenants of Government Buildings
  • Applicable Regions: Western Australia
  • Eligibility Criteria: Annual Turnover of more than $50,000; Valid and Active ABN; Payroll of less than $4 million in 2020-21 Financial Year; Reduction in turnover by more than 30% for any 6-week consecutive timeframe between 01/01/2022 and 30/04/2022 compared to the equivalent period in 2021; Provide proof of tenancy (lease) in WA of Government owned building
  • Grant Value: $6,000

Outdoor Dining and Entertainment Support Package

Alfresco Support Package

  • Application Status: Applications will be available from Friday 11 March 2022 via: https://www.smallbusiness.wa.gov.au/coronavirus/grants#level-1-covid-19-business-assistance-package
  • Eligible Industries: Hospitality
  • Applicable Regions: Western Australia
  • Eligibility Criteria: Annual Turnover of more than $50,000; Valid and Active ABN; Payroll of less than $4 million in 2020-21 Financial Year; Operate in Food & Beverage Industry; Have a Local Government approved Alfresco Plan
  • Grant Value: $5,000

Waiver of Liquor Licencing fees

  • Application Status: Automatic if Eligible
  • Eligible Industries: All licenced liquor businesses will be eligible, unless exempted
  • Applicable Regions: Western Australia
  • Grant Value: Dollar value of 2022 liquor licencing fee (if already paid this will be refunded)
  • Next Steps: This should be automatic, but for more information you can visit https://www.dlgsc.wa.gov.au/racing-gaming-and-liquor/liquor

LEVEL 2 COVID-19 WA Business Assistance Package (Announced Wednesday 2 March, 2022)

The application process for the Level 2 COVID-19 Business Assistance Package is being finalised and further information will be available within the next 2 weeks via the WA Small Business Development Corporation website.

It is important to note that AHA (WA) and CCIWA have released correspondence to members outlining their intentions to lobby the Western Australian Government to consider relief packages that are applicable to a broader spectrum of businesses, including:

  • Comprehensive financial packages,
  • More flexible eligibility criteria – suggestions that the 50% decline in revenue should be revised to 30% as per previous eligibility criteria,
  • Greater consideration around payroll subsidies to ensure employment levels remain at a constant level, and
  • Increasing Payroll Tax relief from 3 months to 6 months.

Small Business Hardship Grants

In its current form, the Small Business Hardship Grant is available to businesses who meet the following criteria:

  • Have a valid and active Australian Business Number (ABN).
  • Have an Australia-wide payroll of less than $4 million.
  • Can demonstrate a 50 per cent reduction in revenue for any four-week consecutive period between 1 January 2022 to 30 April 2022, compared to the equivalent period in 2021.

Payments for the Small Business Hardship grants will be tiered depending on the size of the business:

  • Sole traders (non-employing businesses): $3,000
  • Micro businesses, (one-five employees): $7,500
  • Small businesses, (six to 19 employees): $20,000
  • Medium sized businesses (20 or more employees): $50,000

It is important to note that eligible businesses are may receive grants in the Level 2 package, even if they have received funding or grants from other recent business support programs, including the Level 1 COVID-19 Business Assistance Package. This program is open to all eligible businesses that meet the criteria – including the hospitality, arts and events industries.

Payroll Tax Waiver

Large hospitality businesses will be eligible for a three-month payroll tax waiver if they have:

  • An annual turnover of between $4 million and $20 million
  • Experienced at least a 50 per cent drop in turnover over any four-week period between January 1, 2022 and April 30, 2022 (comparable to the same period last year)

WA Business Assistance Packages – Next Steps

As the COVID-19 situation develops in WA, there will almost certainly be further updates and changes to the assistance provided by the State Government. While this will hopefully bring welcome relief for businesses impacted by the pandemic, it does present a challenge in terms of understanding exactly which grants and packages apply to each business. As more information and updates about the WA Business Assistance Packages are released, we will endeavour to provide that information to our clients, and proactively assist with identifying their eligibility for grants and packages.

If you require assistance with navigating the WA Business Assistance Packages, please reach out to our team via the website or call us on 08 9301 2200.

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