A recently published survey has highlighted the resilience of Melbourne and Sydney SMEs during the ongoing covid-19 enforced lockdowns.

Over 25 percent of businesses stated that they not been impacted by the lockdowns at all, while 53 percent said they will focus on bouncing back when restrictions ease.

The results of the survey were compiled from the answers given by 161 SME business owners located in NSW and Victoria.

28 percent of SMEs across the two states stated that they had not been impacted at all by the current lockdowns. In comparison, it was unfortunate that 19 percent of respondents said their businesses won’t be able to recover from the lockdowns.

Out of the 53 percent of SMEs who acknowledge that they have been impacted but will bounce back after the lockdowns, most will focus on growing their sales, scaling their customer offering and recovering their internal resources to handle new sales.

Furthermore, 42 percent of the business owners who were surveyed revealed that they will more of their time, budget and resources into new customer sales, marketing or changing their sales model.

20 percent said they will focus more so on changing or growing their product or service offering, while 19% will focus on bringing resources back into the business, such as “stood-down” employees.

The survey results demonstrate that only a small percentage of Sydney and Melbourne SMEs will focus on downsizing to help propel recovery. Just 10% said they will focus on reducing business costs, downsizing and/or improving supplier arrangements.

Employee strategies are not on the top of the priority list either, with just 9 percent saying that they will mostly focus on changing their employee-working model and/or improving company culture and morale. The findings point to the growing resilience and adaptability of Australia’s SMEs, and a promising future for their recovery.

Australian Government Introduces New Casual Employment Laws

The Australian Government has announced that businesses who have long-term casual staff might soon be hit with fines exceeding $66,000, if they don’t offer them permanent positions.

Since Monday 27th September, employers across the country must begin contacting casual staff who have been employed for at least 12 months, with a written offer to convert them to permanent employment.

The new rules coincide with the changes made to the Fair Work Act which passed through parliament in March 2021. These reforms gave casual employees the right to convert to permanent employment after 12 months of employment, if they have had a regular pattern of hours on an ongoing basis over the past six months.

The definition of small-business employers is businesses who have less than 15 employees at any given time. Under the new rules, small businesses are not required to offer their casual employees an opportunity to convert to permanent employment.

Employers will also not be required to make an offer if there are “reasonable grounds” not to do so. According to the Fair Work Ombudsman, reasonable grounds include when the position of employment is being made redundant, or when the employer would have to make a significant change to the employee’s work hours to make it possible for them to be employed full-time or part-time.

The newly introduced laws mean that businesses are required to write to an employee within 21 days after the employee’s 12-month anniversary to inform them of the casual conversion offer, or reasons why they are not making the offer.

For an employee to accept the offer, the employee is required to respond in writing within 21 days after they receive the offer. If the employee doesn’t respond within the 21-day timeframe, employers can assume that they’ve declined the offer.

Casual employees are also able to request to be converted to permanent employment as long as they have been employed for at least 12 months, have worked a regular pattern of hours over the last six months, and can continue to work these hours in a full-time or part-time capacity.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has outlined that employers cannot reduce or change an employee’s hours of work, or terminate their employment, to avoid having to offer or accept a request for casual conversion.

The new casual conversion entitlement is also now part of the National Employment Standards, meaning companies that fail to make an offer could face penalties in excess of $66,000, while individuals could face $13,000 in penalties.

Casual employees who are unfairly denied an opportunity to convert to permanent employment will also be able to refer their dispute to the Fair Work Commission or seek help from the Federal Circuit Court.

The team at C&D Restructure and Taxation Advisory are here to help. As part of the Vault Group we can offer the full suite of financial products and advice to help you navigate the business landscape. Schedule a meeting here via Calendly or give us a call on 1300 1 VAULT (1300 182 858)

Post Author: Craig Dangar

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