6.40pm, 23rd March, 2020
Yesterday, the Prime Minister announced assistance of up to $100,000 to businesses that have revenue less than $50 million. The ATO will provide the assistance as automatic credits in the activity statement system:
- clubs that lodge their BAS quarterly will receive 2 payments, from 28 April and from 28 July 2020;
- clubs that lodge their BAS monthly will receive 4 payments, from 21 April, 21 May, 22 June and 21 July 2020.
The size of the payment equates the amount of employees’ wages and salary the club withholds in the respective lodgement periods, up to a total limit of $100,000. More information on the government assistance package can be found here.
Takeaway food and beverage
Clubs may still sell food and beverages, including liquor, for consumption off premises. This means that a person can enter the club premises to purchase food and beverages, on the condition that the consumption of the food or beverage takes place away from the premises. Clubs may also deliver food and beverages, including liquor. Clubs delivering liquor should ensure that the delivery is undertaken by an employee of the club, and that RSA is observed including ascertaining the person’s age and not serving an intoxicated person.
Relief for trading insolvent
The Prime Minister also announced that directors will be given relief for 6 months from personal liability for trading while insolvent. This measure is intended to keep businesses afloat during the current disruption. Without the relief, businesses with cash flow problems may have been forced to enter administration or liquidation, with a view to avoid trading while insolvent.
The temporary relief will apply to debts that are incurred in the ordinary course of business. The relief will not apply to egregious cases of dishonesty and fraud, which could still result in personal liability for directors. Despite the relief, clubs are still required and encouraged to undertake comprehensive due diligence on their financial standing and take active measures to prudently manage the club’s finances.
In addition to the 6-month relief to be implemented by the Government, directors may also be protected from personal liability pursuant to the “safe harbour” protections in the Corporations Act. Clubs are encouraged to review the business recovery advice obtained by ClubsNSW and to implement measures to scale down the club’s operations (click here for the business recovery, you will be required to use your ClubsNSW login details to access this page).
The relief will apply upon enactment of legislation, which will likely occur shortly. Directors may still be personally liable for trading insolvent before enactment.
Status of ClubGRANTS
Member Clubs would be aware that the funds a club may make available under the ClubGRANTS scheme is based on gaming machine revenue. With a forced closure now in force for the foreseeable future, gaming machines will no longer be operational. This has a serious impact on ClubGRANTS and the ability of clubs to continue providing community support. Read more of ClubsNSW advice on ClubGRANTS in Circular 20-037.
ASIC no-action position on AGMs
ASIC has announced a no-action position in relation to clubs whose financial year is 1 January to 31 December. Clubs with this financial year may now hold their AGM up until the end 31 July 2020, without applying for an extension. In the absence of this extension by ASIC, affected clubs would otherwise need to hold their AGM by 31 May 2020.
ASIC has also announced a no-action position in relation to:
- circulating all notices for the AGM electronically – in the absence of ASIC’s no-action position, clubs would be required to circulate paper notices to members who elect to receive a paper notice;
- holding a virtual AGM – in the absence of ASIC’s no action position, clubs could not hold a virtual AGM if their constitution prevents it.
More information on ASIC’s no action position can be found here.
Status of golf and bowls
ClubsNSW has received many enquiries from clubs as to whether golf and bowls activities may continue to take place. ClubsNSW has sought advice from the Government and will provide further information to clubs in due course.
Exemption for clubs with accommodation
Clubs may continue to operate any accommodation facilities – including accommodation facilities on the club premises – despite the order that certain non-essential services be closed.
Helpline for businesses impacted by COVID-19
Today the Government established a telephone hotline to support businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic – 13 28 46. Among other things, the hotline may provide advice on the Government assistance available to clubs and their employees.
10.45am, 23rd March, 2020
Gaming tax deferral
Member Clubs are advised that the quarterly club gaming tax sweep of accounts, due to occur today, will not take place.
Notice to employees regarding forced shutdown
Further to Circular 20-035, clubs are invited to use the template Notice of Shut Down to all staff, available in Circular 20-036 here.
10.30am, 23rd March, 2020
At midday on Monday 23 March 2020, registered clubs in NSW will be forced to close by order of the Federal Government. It is currently unknown when clubs will be permitted to re-open. In response to this unprecedented action, ClubsNSW has devised the following checklist of workplace actions for clubs to consider when shutting down operations.
- Meet with staff who have arrived at work as soon as possible to advise of the shutdown. Note: due to the short notice provided by the Federal Government, such a meeting will be both the consultation and notice period provided to staff regarding the shut down.
- Advise staff:
- due to Federal Government orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the club will be forced to close for the foreseeable future and there is no advice yet from government when the club can re-open
- pursuant to section 524 of the Fair Work Act, this means that employees that cannot be “usefully employed” will be stood down without pay “because of…a stoppage of work for [a] cause for which the employer cannot reasonably be held responsible”
- there are payment and leave options available (see below Workforce Options During Stand Down and Other Payment Options)
- the club will communicate with staff during the stand down (and advise of the method of communication e.g. E-mail, WhatsApp etc.
- (if applicable at the club) that there is an Employee Assistance Program available at the club for any staff who feel they could benefit from confidential and free counselling at this time.
- Any staff not on shift on Monday 23 March 2020 or on leave, should be contacted in accordance with your business contingency plan and advised of the above
ClubsNSW will shortly be issuing a Notice of Stand Down for clubs to provide to staff.
Workforce Options During Stand Down
|Employees who need to stay at
|Consider what essential staff are required to continue to attend the club. Consider whether any special measures should be in place to protect these employees from any risks e.g. security.|
|Employees who can work from
|Those employees that can legitimately work from
home/remotely should be advised to do so commencing 12 noon Monday 23 March 2020. These employees can be paid as normal for the period they continue to be able to work remotely
|Employees who are on
|These employees cannot be stood down and will continue on approved leave until their leave date ends|
|Full-time and Part-time
employees who are stood down
|Employees are not entitled to any pay during a period of stand down.
The Club can offer employees to elect to take:
employees who are stood down can access the Job Seeker payments. A new "coronavirus supplement" of $550 per fortnight for the next six months is available, paid on top of the existing $550 per fortnight payment, for existing and new recipients of the JobSeeker payment, previously known as NewStart.
Casual employees are not entitled to any pay during a period of stand down.
Long-term casuals may have long service leave entitlements they can elect to access at full or half pay.
Other Payment Options
Clubs in New South Wales may also wish to implement other options during a period of stand down such as:
- offering annual leave in advance for employees with low leave balances – for example, 4 weeks annual leave in advance that can be taken at full or half pay
- offering long service leave in advance (a minimum of 4 weeks provided the employee has at least 5 years service, other states and territories must check their specific legislation regarding this)
- offering employees “ex gratia” payments (not as wages) to supplement them during the stand down
- implementing redundancies
The Federal Government has just announced it will permit individuals in "financial stress" due to the COVID-19 to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in 2019-20 and a further $10,000 in 2020-21.
Clubs are advised that:
- annual and personal leave continues to accrue for full-time and part-time staff during a period of stand down, long service leave does not
- employees who become sick during a period of stand down or otherwise need to access personal leave, are not entitled to do so. If offered and paid, it may lead to the employee “double dipping” on return to work
For further information please see: https://treasury.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-03/Fact_sheetIncome_Support_for_Individuals.pdf
What else should Club management do?
Ensure the club is obtaining information about the COVID-19 situation from the correct sources, such as the Department of Health NSW and the Federal Government
Provide regular updates to employees and give them access to practical information – including about their own health and wellbeing
Show leadership, compassion and understanding. Understand some employees are going to be genuinely concerned. Be fair and flexible where possible.
There may be difficult decisions you need to make for the survival of your club - communicate the reasons openly.
Note: this document has been prepared on the basis that the club and its employees are covered by the Registered Clubs Award. It does not take into account any specific entitlements or processes that may be required under a contract of employment or an enterprise bargaining agreement. Clubs should specifically refer to those documents to check whether additional requirements or entitlements are applicable. Please seek further advice from ClubsNSW if required.
For more information or any questions, please contact the ClubsNSW Members Enquiries Centre.