Sky Update – March 2020
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has escalated rapidly during March and has far reaching impacts on businesses and households domestically and abroad.
We are currently working very hard to talk to our clients and to assist them in managing the economic impacts.
One of the financial assistance measures of significant interest to many of our business clients is the “Cash Flow Boost”. Last week we published a blog that explains how that measure will work in more detail.
Businesses and households are encouraged to keep up to date on the assistance available and to contact our office for guidance and assistance.
Helpful resources for further information are the Federal Treasury website which contains information on the steps the Federal Government are taking to support businesses and households. State governments such as those in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria & Western Australia have all launched financial assistance packages also.
Other useful resources include:
- Assistance to businesses to retain apprentices/trainees;
- Services Australia (Centrelink) for those needing income support;
- Early release of super for those facing financial hardship;
- ATO assistance with tax debt management, lodgement extensions, etc;
- R&D Tax Incentive deadline extension from 30 April 2020 to 30 September 2020;
- Fair Work Ombudsman guidance of the rights and obligations of employers; and
- Worksafe & icare guidance on managing workplace health & safety issues (guidance for other states is also available).
We will be updating affected clients regularly on developments and strategies as they emerge and encourage you to stay in contact with us.
We also encourage everyone to comply with the government pronouncments to curb the spread of COVID-19. From following directions to close your business to the practice of good hygiene, social isolation and social distancing. More information on the requirements and best practice can be found at the Department of Health website.
Lastly, we wish to acknowledge that this is a stressful and traumatic period for many. If you, or somebody you know is struggling with mental health issues, please seek help. Lifeline and Beyond Blue are just a few of the organisations that are able to help people who are undergoing a mental health crisis.
Sky Accountants Office Arrangements
Further to our previous guidance issued on the 17th of March, we have taken a decision to close our offices to the general public. In taking this decision we are seeking to do our bit to slow the spread of COVID-19 for the benefit of our clients, staff and the wider community.
Whilst our offices are closed, we remain fully operational and are 100% committed to helping our clients through this national emergency.
We have reached out to a significant number of clients over the last few weeks and will continue to reach out and try and assist in any way that we can. If you have not yet heard from us, or need urgent assistance, we urge you to get in touch.
Access to ATO Online Services
As of the 27th of March, the ATO has decommissioned the AUSkey technology that has historically been used to login into ATO online services.
Moving forwards, a myGovID will be required to access ATO online services.
Working with a Distributed Workforce
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen more businesses enabling remote working arrangements than we have ever seen before.
For businesses that have only ever dabbled in remote working, there are a myriad of issues to be addressed to ensure that those arrangements are a success.
First and foremost, you will need to think about how you would like remote working to work in your organisation and develop policies and procedures to support that. For example, it is easy for teams to become disconnected when members are working remotely. A regular “team huddle” is a good way to combat this disconnection.
The policies and procedures that are developed then need to be clearly disseminated throughout the organisation. This includes to those staff who may not be working remotely themselves but that need to interact with those who are.
Employers must also be careful not to loose sight of their obligations to provide a safe workplace for all team members. This goes beyond premises under the control of the employer and extends to the remote locations where staff may be working.
Employers need to ensure that remote staff have an appropriate setup and that they are observing safe work practices. Where employers have concerns, they should consult an OH&S expert and/or a qualified physiotherapist to ensure that staff are safe and the business is not exposed to an OH&S claim.
Work Safe Victoria have published some useful guidance to assist employers and employees. The corresponding bodies in other states such as icare, WorkCover Queensland, etc also provide similar guidance specific to those jurisdictions.
Employers should also ensure that appropriate protections are in place to prevent data loss/corruption and unauthorised access to systems and data. These protections will need to cover physical items such as:
- Procedures for staff removing files/documents from onsite to their remote workplace;
- Procedures for how those files/documents will be protected whilst offsite; and
- Procedures for reproduction (eg printing & copying) of documents and their secure destruction.
Additionally, protections should be put in place to protect unauthorised access to IT systems. Employers need to ensure that all devices that are being used to access systems are running up to date antivirus software. Extra precautions should also be enabled such as observing password best practice and use of multifactor authentication to login to IT systems. The use of password management systems like LastPass & 1Password should also be considered.
We recommend that all businesses that are rolling out remote working arrangements consult with an IT professional.
Lastly, businesses will need to investigate the technologies that they can utilise to support communication and collaboration both within their teams and with their clients and customers.
Businesses should evaluate and select an appropriate tool and then roll-out out training to ensure that the tool is used to maximum effect.
Just like with face to face meetings, there is etiquette to be followed and strategies to be employed to ensure that the online meeting is a success. Staff without experience with these tools will require coaching in addition to the technical “how to” training.
Sky Accountants Ballarat
Phone: 1300 328 855
Office Address: 902 Howitt Street, Wendouree, Victoria 3355, Australia
Postal Address: PO Box 2234, Bakery Hill, Victoria 3354
Sky Accountants Gisborne & Macedon Ranges
Phone: 03 97444522
Office Address: 45 Hamilton Street, Gisborne, Victoria 3437, Australia
Postal Address: PO Box 270 Gisborne Victoria 3437