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From the Commissioner

Conversations with small businesses this month were dominated with questions about 17 December when the Queensland Government’s requirement commences for the mandatory vaccination of staff / customers for certain business types.

Last week I wrote a special update because I wanted to share the information and resources that we use to try and answer the questions we are receiving. Since sending out that update, my office has received many comments. I want to thank you for sharing your concerns and feedback and assure you that I am conveying everything through to the right people.

We are advocating for urgent and clear information for business decision-making in the lead up to 17 December. I completely understand how important it is for business to find and understand what the rules will be, and what they will not be. I have set out some further information below in this update.

It is completely understandable if your energy reserves are low at the moment, it has been a very fatiguing year. Please try to reflect on what you have overcome and take time to thank and reward yourself for ‘persevering through one of the worst times in human history’. You will find some good tips and advice from the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman below in this update.

Some good news – this month the councils of Douglas, Mareeba and Banana pledged their commitment to their small businesses by joining the expanding family of Small Business Friendly councils. Business groups and chambers of commerce from each of these regions have welcomed the initiative and we look forward to working together to the benefit many generations of small business operators to come.

I promised a progress report on my efforts to help improve the effectiveness of and experiences with supplier debriefs with Queensland Government buyers. Things are moving in the right direction, with good progress being made with a key procurement category. I am hoping we can assist Queensland Government buyers, as well as our small business friendly local councils with these important conversations.

When it came to accessing COVID-19 support, the ANZSIC code of your business was often relevant. Many businesses evolve over time and ANZSIC codes can become out of date or inaccurate. You will be interested to know you can soon update your ABN details and nominate up to four additional codes to help better describe your business activities. I’ve added some useful information about this below.

Maree Adshead
Queensland Small Business Commissioner


Preparing for 17 December

If you missed last week’s special update you can review a copy here.

From 17 December 2021, non-essential leisure businesses – hospitality and entertainment venues – will only be allowed to permit entry to vaccinated staff and patrons. These businesses will no longer need to follow capacity restrictions.

To manage the new measures these businesses will need to:

  • display the vaccination rules at the premises (sample signage has been published for you to print and use here; and
  • use best efforts to ask for evidence of vaccination from customers at the time of check-in.

Additionally, work is also underway to provide free online training resources to help manage the entry of customers, including checking their vaccination status. This training will also provide guidance to de-escalate situations with difficult customers, and guidance for anyone considering voluntarily adopting these measures.

Here are the links to FREE TAFE courses:

You need to register for either of the Covid Safe Microcredentials, once you are registered and your account is confirmed, you will have access to 3 Covid Safe courses and you can complete 1 or all of them if you wish. The third Covid Safe course is called Covid Safe for Non-Essential Venues Please see this link for the most recent information about COVID-19 —https://tafeqld.edu.au/current-students/health-advice.html

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, TAFE Queensland, in conjunction with the Queensland Government, is offering a range of education and training to support individuals, and small, medium and large businesses. Please see this link for more information: https://tafeqld.edu.au/campaign-pages/Covid-19-Response.html

 

In addition to the above, please note that vaccinations will also become mandatory on 15 December for health care workers in a health care setting. Importantly, this applies to workers only and not patients / clients accessing health care services.

It was further announced by the Premier that workers in schools, early childhood centres, correctional centres, youth detention facilities and airports will also need to have received at least one vaccination dose by 17 December and be fully vaccinated by 23 January.

DESBT about vaccines for employees under 16 and if unvaccinated how this will affect density limits. With regard to your specific questions Queensland Health approved responses are:

  1. Do staff under 16 need to be vaccinated to continue working in hospitality settings?

No, the restrictions do not apply to people aged under 16. However, vaccination is strongly encouraged to ensure the person is protecting themselves, their colleagues and their customers.

2. If we have staff under 16 who are not vaccinated will density limits be placed on us?

Density restrictions will not be placed on venues because they employ staff under 16 years as this cohort is not required under the Public Health and Social Measures linked to vaccination status Direction to be vaccinated.

 

Frequently asked questions are available from the Queensland Health website which are being updated regularly to provide additional clarification.


Making mental health your business

In a recent mental health webinar delivered for small businesses across the country, the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Bruce Billson cited comedian Lily Tomlin’s sentiment, “For fast acting relief, try slowing down.”

Throughout the pandemic business owners have been perhaps the busiest they’ve ever been, tasked with the usual challenges of running a business whilst navigating through the new challenges of operating within restrictions coupled with the vast uncertainty that COVID has presented.

With the borders set to reopen across the country, Bruce implored business owners, “you don’t have to go from 0 to 100, pace yourself and take a moment to thank yourself for persevering through one of the worst times in human history.”

Whether you’re winding down or gearing up for Christmas trade, it’s important to ensure you’re “filling your own cup” to get through the challenges that lie ahead. There are a wealth of mental well-being services and resources available, with some specifically tailored for small business including ASBFEO’s My Business Health and Beyond Blue’s New Access for Small Business Owners. The Business Queensland mental health and wellbeing resources for businesses is also a good place to learn about other resources and programs available.


ANZSIC code updates

The Australian Business Register (ABR) will soon allow ABN holders to update their ABN details with four additional Australia New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) codes. These codes allow businesses to identify what type of business they run and reflect the activities the business undertakes.

Recently, announcements were made introducing a change to the Australian Business Register so ABN holders can record an additional four business activities against their ABN. This is great news for business owners as it will allow them to more accurately reflect the diverse activities their business undertakes and will be particularly helpful when government grants are being issued, as businesses will have more options to choose from when they have to select what classification they fall into, which means more businesses will be eligible to apply for these grants.

This change is expected to be rolled out in December 2021, with more information to be provided to ABN holders closer to the date. Find out more here.


Hiring employees checklist

If you’re thinking about hiring staff to help you out during the holiday period there are Australian laws you need to comply with, and if you haven’t hired staff before navigating these laws can seem overwhelming, but there is help available.

business.gov.au has created a hiring employees checklist to guide small business owners through the hiring process as they prepare to onboard their new employee/s. You can access the checklist here.


Loss carry back tax offset tool

Looking to offset your business losses against pre Covid profitability for a refundable tax offset? The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has been consulting with small businesses and tax practitioners to create the Loss carry back tax offset tool to work out eligibility.

The tool works through the eligibility criteria using a series of simple tick box style questions to help businesses calculate the maximum amount of tax offset that can be claimed and helps with record keeping by providing a printable report containing:

all the information put into the tool
eligibility to make a claim
the maximum amount of tax offset claimable
the disclosures for each label in the company tax return that would be required to make the loss carry back claim.
You can work out if you’re eligible to claim the loss carry back tax offset here.