COVID-19 MEMBER SUPPORT
COVID-19 MEMBER SUPPORT
NESA continues to regularly engage with key departments to remain informed and provide feedback around the impacts of COVID-19.
We encourage all NESA members to make contact:
HR related queries
NESA INDUSTRY PARTNER
1300 021 800
insurance related assistance
NESA INDUSTRY PARTNER
Marsh Advantage Insurance
03 9603 2715
0414 648 890
18 MAY 2020
- Labour Force Data
- NESA strategically working to refute and correct misinformation
- Mutual Obligation Arrangements – Extended to 1 June 2020
- Reminder! COVID-19 Senate Inquiry – NESA Member Consultation Survey – closing COB 20 May 2020
- NESA Member Consultation – Friday 22 May 2020 – 12pm-1pm AEST – Teleconference
- COVID-19 Senate Inquiry – Public Hearings
The early realities of COVID-19 have been realized in the latest labour force data, with employment falling by 4.6% in April and unemployment rising by 14.5% as announced by Minister Cash last week. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose by 1.0 percentage point, to 6.2 per cent in April, the highest rate recorded since September 2015. Treasury forecast the unemployment rate to rise to 10 per cent in the June quarter 2020.
COVID-19 Senate Inquiry – Public Hearings
DESE are scheduled to appear before the COVID-19 Senate Inquiry Select Committee tomorrow (19 May 2020) from 1.00pm onwards.
1 MAY 2020
- Message to job seekers – Mutual Obligations Exemption ending
- Select Committee on COVID-19 (Public Information)
- COVIDSafe App (Public Information)
- JobKeeper Payment Update – enrolment extended until 31 May 2020 (Public Information)
- Research and Reporting (Public Information)
- ACCI COVID-19 Government Assistance Guide
Select Committee on COVID-19
A Select Committee on COVID-19 has recently been announced. Whilst the Terms of Reference are broad, this a welcome opportunity to highlight the sector.
Submissions are due by 28 May 2020.
More than 2 million people have downloaded the COVIDSafe App since its launch on Sunday.
Downloading the app is voluntary, however the Government is aiming for 10 million people (40%) to download the contact-tracing app for it to be a success and influence relaxation of current restrictions.
Click here for more information about the App
JobKeeper Payment Update – enrolment extended until 31 May 2020
The ATO has extended the time to enrol for the initial two JobKeeper payment fortnights, from 30 April 2020 until 31 May 2020.
Payments for the first two fortnights (30 March – 12 April, 13 April – 26 April), must now be made by 8 May 2020 for businesses wishing to receive JobKeeper payments for April.
As the rules around JobKeeper payment continue to be firmed up, the Government is clarifying some key operational areas. Click here to read the Minister’s Media Release – 24 April 2020 for an overview of these.
The Fair Work Commission has released the Jobkeeper disputes benchbook. The guide has been released to assist parties lodging or responding to JobKeeper dispute applications under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).
Research and Reporting
Today the government has the released the final report on the Inquiry into the adequacy of Newstart and related payments and alternative mechanisms to determine the level of income support payments in Australia.
The OECD has recently published the Coronavirus (COVID-19) From pandemic to recovery: Local employment and economic development and the Public employment services in the frontline for jobseekers, workers and employers.
The Labour Market Information Portal (LMIP) has also provided fact sheets and data on the impacts of COVID-19 onto businesses.
22 APRIL 2020
- Joint statement from Minister’s Cash and Ruston
- Employment Fund credit
- Managing Your Workforce During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- HR & IR Support – NESA member portal
Today in a joint statement Minister’s Cash and Ruston have announced the lifting of Mutual Obligations will continue until 22 May 2020 as a result of the impact of COVID-19.
To further assist job seekers to prepare for and move quickly back into work, the Morrison Government is also bringing forward the Employment Fund credit for the most job-ready job seekers to be available immediately, rather than after 13 weeks, which is currently the case.
Managing Your Workforce During the COVID-19 Pandemic
There has been an overwhelming demand for information on how to manage the workforce during the COVID-19 Pandemic as well as information on understanding new Government initiatives including variations to Awards.
The Employee Relations Online subscriptions service provides you with HR & IR support that covers all employees’ relations issues including:
- Coronavirus response
- Industry pay rates
- Awards conditions
- Leave and holidays
- Workplace agreements
- Termination of employment
- Employee tax and superannuation
- Health and Safety
Membership also gives you access to useful resources such as fact sheets, pay scales, guides, calculators, templates and model employment policies; Updates informing of the latest news and additions to our extensive library of resources; Confidential and expert advice online and via the 1300 Priority Help Desk.
As a NESA Member, you receive access to the Basic subscription level HR essentials, and can upgrade at any time.
Log in to the HR & IR Support NESA member portal to preview the most recent information and advice from Employee Relations Online.
Visit the Employee Relations Online website for further information or call 1300 021 800.
21 APRIL 2020
- Job Seeker Referrals
- CTA Program Update
- DSS Communications
- CDP Funding Arrangements
- IT Update
- ParentsNext Family Violence Resources
- JobKeeper Payment (public)
- Benefits of NEIS Webinar (public)
We continue to liaise with members in working through the JobKeeper Payment eligibility requirements. Since the Bill was passed information has been updated and an additional factsheet titled ‘Protecting Integrity’ has been released, we encourage members to review these. Please refer to the latest Factsheets, FAQ, Rules and Explanatory Statement.
NESA has participated in second Roundtable meeting with Minister Cash hosted by ACCI. The discussion focused on JobKeeper Payment arrangements – Click here to view the recording.
Benefits of NEIS – Free Webinar – 4 May 2020
With high volumes of new program participants entering the system providers will need to consider the most appropriate services to support job seekers back to employment. NEIS may be a suitable solution.
NESA invites you to join the chair of the National NEIS Association (NNA), Phillip Kemp as he discusses the advantage New Business Assistance with NEIS has for jobactive providers, how NEIS benefits jobseekers and how NEIS will assist people when the Australian economy reopens for business.
The webinar is being held on Monday 4 May 2020 at 2pm AEST (1:30pm SA & NT, and 12noon WA) – Please note, this is a free webinar session. If you register and cannot attend on the day, you will be emailed the link to the recording. The session is expected to run no more than 60 minutes.
9 APRIL 2020
- Seek – new job ads down
- JobKeeper Payment
- Roundtable with Minister Cash
- COVID-19 Incentives Overview
- Industry Code of Practice for commercial and retail tenants
- New Business Assistance with NEIS – Coronavirus (COVID-19) Supplement
- COVID-19 Webinar Series
Whilst job losses and the state of the labour market dominate the headlines, SEEK has revealed new job ads last week were down 65 per cent compared to the same week in 2019
Yesterday, the Australian Government passed the Coronavirus Economic Response Package (Payments and Benefits) Bill 2020 and the Coronavirus Economic Response Package Omnibus (Measures No. 2) Act 2020.
As you are aware these actions have enabled temporary amendments to the Fair Work Act 2009 to allow employers to change workplace arrangements and claim JobKeeper payments until business conditions improve.
Please visit Treasury.gov.au/Coronavirus for further information and factsheets in relation to JobKeeper payment.
Roundtable with Minister Cash
On Monday (6 April 2020) Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business participated in a roundtable hosted by ACCI. The meeting discussed the JobKeeper payment, Rental Subsidy, VET and skills.
Click here to watch a video recording of the meeting
Click here to read the JobKeeper payment – FAQ – as referenced in the meeting
COVID-19 Incentives Overview
Over the last month or so there has a been a number of major incentive announcements from the Federal and State Governments and other industry bodies. We have come across a collated overview of all of these which may be a useful resource to you and your teams managing COVID-19.
Industry Code of Practice for commercial and retail tenants
On Tuesday (7 April 2020) the Prime Minister announced arrangements in relation to the mandatory Code of Conduct for commercial tenancies (Code). Key things to note:
- Landlords will have to reduce leases in proportion to the reduction in the tenant’s business
- Waivers will have to account for at least 50% of the reduction in business
- Rental payments can be deferred and must be spread over the remaining time on a lease and for no less than 24 months
- The code will apply to any tenancies where the landlord or tenant applies for the JobKeeper payment and where they have a turnover of $50 million or less
- The arrangements will be overseen by binding mediation
- A mandatory code will be rolled out in each state and territory
- Banks have been called upon to provide support to larger commercial landlords
Tuesday’s All CEO Livestream covered a broad range of issues impacting jobactive as raised by the sector via NESA. Key topics addressed included: Job Seeker Referrals, Job Seeker Messaging, Job Plans, Outcomes, Permissible Breaks, Star Ratings, Maximum Time Transfers, the Quality Assurance Framework, Services Australia, NEIS and the impacts of JobKeeper payment.
Click here to access the livestream recording
Click here to read the most recent jobactive CEO Letter – 7 April 2020
**Please refer the Provider Portal for the most recent FAQ
NESA continues to work alongside DEA, NDS and JA to progress the priorities of the DES sector. In recent representations we have highlighted a range of issues from financial sustainability through to flexibility and program arrangements.
Today Ministers Ruston and Robert announced further supports for the disability sector including financial investment and support for DES, ADE’s and NDIS providers and participants. Click here to read the minister’s joint media release.
DSS have also advised providers of additional measures available to DES providers including Advance Payment of Service Fees, participant communications, referrals and ESAts and other general information. Click here to read the most recent DSS CEO letter – 9 April 2020.
NESA continues to engage with NIAA on the program and funding implications relating to the Community Development Program in the COVID-19 response. Our members are demonstrating the real value of community and employment services in these regions, with Providers delivering innovative community based responses to the current COVID-19 environment. We understand how critical funding certainty will be to ensuring that continues and are working urgently in seeking responses to outstanding questions from the sector.
We are also engaging now with NIAA on the impact of COVID-19 on the delivery of the Vocational Training and Employment Centres (VTECs).
The most recent TTW CEO letter outlines the upcoming changes in relation to the extension of TTW services from 12 to 18 months, movement of eligible participants from jobactive in exceptional circumstances and changes to enable authorised nominees to contact the NCSL on behalf of participants.
New Business Assistance with NEIS – Coronavirus (COVID-19) Supplement
Temporary changes have been introduced to NEIS to enable NEIS participants, should they choose to do so, to access the JobSeeker Payment, including the COVID-19 Supplement, while participating in the NEIS Program.
NEIS providers are encouraged to have conversations with existing and new NEIS participants about these arrangements.
On 3 April 2020 COAG held its third meeting. The meeting focused on the immediate steps to support and protect the interests of students, workers, training and VET providers and positioning the sector to recover quickly post COVID-19.
The Council agreed to action in three key priority areas:
- Critical skills and workforce availability
- Provider viability
- Supporting students
COVID-19 Webinar Series
NESA and our Industry Partner (Indigenous Consulting Group) has designed a new COVID-19 Webinar Series to assist employers and employees that guides you through a comprehensive series of questions and responses.
Whilst other platforms are streaming basic assistance on how to work from home and deal with “cabin” fever, this Webinar series will assist in managing fears within your team, along with a thorough information pack including a Working From Home (WFH) checklist and sample COVID-19 Organisational Policies.
The 4 Webinar topics are:
- Session 1: Understanding your requirements as a leader to address COVID-19 within your organisation
- Session 2: Managing a team remotely in response to COVID-19
- Session 3: How to manage my role working from home
- Session 4: How to manage my own mental health & well being
As noted above, this series has been broken down into 2 categories across 4 sessions. You may opt to register your teams for the Manager or Staff sessions only or you may wish to register for the complete series. Please visit the Professional Development tab on the NESA website for further information.
1 APRIL 2020
- All CEO Livestream Update – 31 March 2020
We understand a number of you had difficulty viewing the DESE All CEO Livestream yesterday. If you would still like to view it you can access the recording. Simply click the link you used to access the Livestream.
Key topics covered included:
- the newly announced $130 billion Jobkeeper Payment package – further detail can be accessed via Treasury.gov.au/coronavirus
- New job seeker flow into services
- Advance Payment of Administration Fees
- Extended Mutual Obligation Requirements to 27 April 2020
- NEIS arrangements
- Job Seekers communication around engagement
Please continue to check the updated information and FAQ on the Provider Portal in relation to jobactive, DES and CDP
28 MARCH 2020
- Mutual Obligation Suspension
25 MARCH 2020
- Servicing Arrangements
- Mutual Obligation
- Work for the Dole
NESA continues to engage with all relevant departments and has been in touch with them today in light of the PM’s announcements as some of these immediately impact our sector.
As you will have seen in Nathan Smyth’s most recent correspondence, the announcements made by the Prime Minister last night have immediate implications for servicing arrangements, Mutual Obligation and Work for the Dole. Changes include:
- All services and appointments should now be delivered over the phone, online, video conference or other arrangements that do not require face-to-face contact
- Face-to-face interactions should only occur in exceptional circumstances
- The department will provide further direction and advice around practical arrangements for aspects of digital servicing i.e. signing forms online
Mutual Obligation (MO) Contingency Arrangements
- MO requirements will be automatically lifted for all job seekers and participants across all programs until 31 March 2020 – see joint media release from Ministers Cash and Ruston
- No job seeker or participant will receive a payment suspension or a penalty
- This has been implemented to ease system congestion on the MyGov website
Work for the Dole (WfD)
- All WfD activities, including Individual Hosted activities, are suspended effective immediately
- Immediate action is required in ESSWeb – please refer to the attached CEO letter for guidance around system steps and job seeker and WfD Host communications
- Click here to access the WfD Host Fact Sheet
To further support communications DESE have also provided updated fact sheets for employment service providers and job seekers.
Follow the links to access the fact sheets:
23 MARCH 2020
- Employment Services an “essential service”
As it currently stands Employment Services are considered an “essential service” and will continue to operate. NESA is seeking further clarification and confirmation from all departments. For further information click here to read Prime Minister Morrison’s press release.
- Mutual Obligations for DESE and DSS participants remain in place.
- Job Plans will be adjusted to a default requirement of 4 job searches per month.
- Requirements to deliver face-to-face services will be removed, providers are expected to leverage existing and new flexibilities and are required to maintain sufficient sites to enable face-to-face servicing where it is appropriate to do so.
- Providers are encouraged to deliver or refer job seekers to online training or phone/Skype based courses where participants have access to relevant devices.
- IT changes will be required to ensure initial appointments, assessments and interactions with Services Australia operate as intended. Timeframes TBA.
- WfD and other activities delivered in group settings have been suspended. Providers are directed to refresh risk assessments for range of activities. The department continues to monitor individual placements and will advise of any further developments.
- Other unpaid placements and project initiatives will only be continued on a case-by-case basis where appropriate and in line with health authorities.
- New Participants will be required to have their initial appointment and complete their Participation Plan via phone or online. Following this new and existing participants will not be required to participate in further activities or appointments.
- Providers will need to make monthly phone calls to deliver an outreach service and are asked to utilise online or group services as appropriate.
TWES – Providers have been asked to make reasonable efforts to deliver a phone based outreach service.
EST – advice on Deed changes for EST will be made available shortly.
- DES participants with Mutual Obligation requirements must continue to participate unless granted an exemption by Centrelink.
- Providers are not required to deliver services face-to-face during this period and can choose to deliver contacts face-to-face, by telephone or video chat.
- Providers are required via telephone or email to schedule a contact with a participant who has had a Major Personal Crisis exemption after their 14-day exemption ends.
- Providers should review mandatory job search requirements and other activities in the Job Plan and make appropriate changes based on local conditions and the participant’s circumstances. Zero job searches and removal of all non-essential activities may be appropriate.
- Providers are responsible for determining their operational needs, and can choose to reduce hours or close some or all sites. Relationship Managers must be informed of business closure or adjustment decisions.
- Providers are responsible for determining operational requirements, within program restraints when considering allowing staff to work from home. All staff must comply with the Department’s Security Policies and the Commonwealth’s Cybersafety Policy.
- Providers should avoid travel to more remote locations and should deliver contacts through other arrangements where possible.
- Providers may be eligible for assistance under the Cash Flow Boost or Delivering Support for Business Investment elements of the Government’s Economic Response.
- Service Fees will not continue to be paid for participants who are on an exemption.
- Services Fees will continue to be paid for participants who do not comply with contact or other requirements in their Job Plan.
- From 1 March 2020,
- DES providers can access extended Permissible Breaks where a participant remains employed but is unable to work the required number of hours.
- Automatic approval is granted for all Ongoing Support Assessments to be conducted by telephone, where appropriate
- Mutual Obligations for CDP participants will remain in place. Requirements for providers to deliver face-to-face servicing will be removed which will assist to limit job seekers and CDP staff travel between communities.
- WfD and other activities delivered in group settings will be suspended.
- Providers are expected to maintain service sites and staff where this is consistent with health advice.
- If job seekers are engaged in online training or other online activities, providers have the flexibility to continue to deliver these activities to job seekers on a voluntary basis.
- The NIAA will work with other government agencies to lift any existing suspensions and CD related penalties while biosecurity measures are in place. Providers are asked not to apply job seeker compliance during this time.
- The NIAA will provide a monthly set payment to CDP providers in lieu in of activity based payments. The amounts will be determined with reference to previous payment periods and will be set at a level to enable providers to continue to provide CDP services.
- All providers will be contacted by the NIAA this week to work through these arrangements.
The NDIA have announced a range of measures to ensure service continuity and support for participants and providers. These include extending NDIS plans up to 24 months, conducting phone meetings where possible, conducting proactive outreach to high-risk participants, and providing financial assistance to providers to support retention of workers.
19 MARCH 2020
- Briefing documentation – DESE, DSS
- Briefing documentation – NIAA
As we are all working through the unprecedented adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, I want to reassure you that we have been working actively with governments and stakeholders to represent the sector’s views and to advocate for immediate measures to ensure that the sector remains viable so that members can be at the front line of responding to the consequent massive health and economic shocks.
Please find briefing documentation that has recently been provided to DESE, DSS (click here) and NIAA (click here) outlining solutions for sector support to enable vital services to continue. Fundamentally, we are advocating that government assures sector stability in line with expenditure forecasts whilst various policy and programme levers are adjusted to account for the impacts.
During this period our members have been well supported by our various industry partners, including Jodi Sharman-Caminiti and the team from Marsh Advantage (click here), Paul Maguire from Maguire Consulting (click here) and Paul Licuria and the team from alffie (click here).
If you require any support or want to provide feedback on developments of the impact of the pandemic please do not hesitate to contact us. We will also be continuing our active outreach to members to check on how you and your teams are faring during this very challenging period.
13 MARCH 2020
- Nationwide Contingency Arrangements
- Business Continuity Arrangements
- Economic Response to the Coronavirus
- Supporting you to support your staff
- Stay up to date!
As a sector we are now facing the impacts and potential continued spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). NESA has engaged in active member outreach and has received feedback in relation to the immediate response and actions being undertaken by members to manage and mitigate the ongoing potential threat to operations and service delivery. Members have advised they are implementing risk and response management strategies as the severity of the situation escalates.
NESA has provided feedback and briefing notes to the Department of Education, Skills and Employment, the Department of Social Services and the National Indigenous Australians Agency.
Nationwide Contingency Arrangements – (13 March 2020 – COB 20 March 2020)
As announced, Nationwide contingency arrangements will be in place for all programs (including CTA, DES, EST, jobactive, NEST, ParentsNext) and sites nationwide during the introduction of JobSeeker Payment.
These arrangements will be in effect from close of business Friday 13 March 2020 until close of business Friday 20 March 2020 inclusive.
For further detail around these arrangements please refer to the Provider Portal Notice ‘Nationwide contingency during the introduction of JobSeeker Payment’ – (posted 12 March 2020).
Business Continuity Arrangements
In addition to the Nationwide Contingency Arrangements, the departments have also provided advice around business continuity arrangements to support providers to manage operations throughout this period.
For further program specific information please refer to:
- Jobactive CEO letter (12 March 2020)
- DES COVID-19 Update (Provider Portal Notice – posted 12 March 2020)
- CDP Coronavirus Update (Provider Portal Notice – posted 13 March 2020)
- ParentsNext – Exemptions for Participants affected by COVID-19 (Provider Portal Notice – posted 13 March 2020)
Economic Response to the Coronavirus
The Australian Government has announced a $17.6 billion economic plan to support Australians and our economy throughout this crisis. The targeted stimulus package has been designed to:
- Support business investment
- Provide cash flow assistance for small and medium sized businesses (including wage subsidy support for apprentices)
- Provide stimulus payments to households to support growth (one-off payment of $750)
- Assist severely affected regions most significantly affected by the Coronavirus outbreak
For further detailed information visit https://treasury.gov.au/coronavirus
Stay up to date!
As highlighted in the most recent departmental communications it is vital for organisations to stay up to date with advice and information published by the Department of Health, as well as state and territory health authorities.
For guidance around managing cash flow challenges and retaining employees during this crisis, refer to the Cash flow assistance for businesses fact sheet. This is a useful resource for member organisations and the employers you engage with.
NESA continues to regularly engage with key departments to remain informed and provide feedback around the impacts of COVID-19. We encourage all NESA members to contact the Policy Team to discuss any emerging issues ([email protected] – 03 9624 2390).
STAY UP TO DATE
Risk managing vacant properties during the pandemic
Securing and managing vacant properties has become necessary for many organisations and businesses throughout the pandemic. We recommend a high level of vigilance to safeguard unoccupied buildings.
Recognising the vital role Brokers play, we have established the following alerts to assist with your current guidance and advice for clients:
- Risk Alert #4 – Provides advice on actions to take to secure the building and guidance for ongoing risk assessment to reduce loss or damage. It also includes a useful “checklist” to assist risk assessments. Click here to download.
To view our previous Risk Alerts and resources to help your clients, click here.