COVID-19 :: Berries Australia Resources
COVID-19 :: Fact Sheets, Checklists, Templates & Posters
COVID-19 :: Berries Australia Webinar Q&A series
Berries Australia is hosting a series of Q&A Webinars – facilitated by Cynthia Mahoney – to give growers the chance to get all their questions answered. The recorded Webinars will be added here.
COVID-19 :: The Burst – News Alerts
COVID-19 :: State Support for Business
Appropriation (COVID) Bill 2020
To provide an additional $4 billion in funding over two years to protect Queensland during the coronavirus pandemic which includes:
- a $200 credit for all households to offset the cost of water and electricity
- $2.5 billion for business including payroll tax relief, relief for businesses renting government premises, a worker displacement program to help unemployed people get jobs in sectors facing shortages
- electricity bill rebates for all Queensland small and medium-sized businesses that consume less than 100,000-kilowatt hours
- A $500 million Jobs Support Loan facility, interest free for the first 12 months, to support businesses to keep Queenslanders in work, with loans of up to $250,000
- $400 million in land tax relief for property owners, that must be passed on to tenants
- An initial $27.25 million package to assist local government, business and industry with resilience and recovery strategies, targeted financial support and counselling
Emergency Response Bill 2020
- Focusses on commercial real estate including lease and eviction changes
Queensland Small Business Commissioner
This position will take an active role in helping small businesses affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, providing information and support including retail leasing advice and mediation.
Quick reference guide for support available for small to medium businesses
Payroll tax relief package: If you’re an employer (or part of a group of employers) who pays $6.5 million or less in Australian taxable wages, you may be eligible for a refund of your payroll tax for two months, payroll tax holiday (i.e. no payroll tax to be paid) for three months or a deferral of payroll tax for the 2020 calendar year.
Temporary relief for financially distressed businesses: The Australian Government is temporarily increasing the threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand.
SME power bill relief: Small and medium businesses may be eligible for a $500 rebate off their energy bill.
Commercial and residential tenancies: Evictions will be put on hold over the next six months for commercial and residential tenancies in financial distress, who are unable to meet their commitments due to the impact of the COVID-19.
Any small business impacted by COVID-19 can now contact the Rural Financial Counselling Service in the following areas:
Boosting cash flow: Temporary cash flow support to small and medium businesses through two sets of cash flow boosts to support employers to retain employees. Support will be provided via tax-free cash flow boosts of between $20,000 and $100,000.
The Australian Government’s JobKeeper package offers a subsidy of up to $1500 per fortnight per employee to keep eligible businesses paying their staff. Employers and sole traders can register their interest in this program with the Australian Tax Office.
Supporting apprentices and trainees: Eligible employers can apply for a wage subsidy of 50% of their apprentice’s or trainee’s wage paid during 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020.
Qld Health updates
New website for QLD COVID statistics – www.health.qld.gov.au/covid-data
- Commitment was provided this week, that if a person has tested positive for COVID-19 and has no permanent residence (ie. Is a backpacker) Queensland Health will take responsibility (for costs) for the quarantine period.
- At this stage, it is our understanding this is only for the person that has tested positive for COVID-19 and not for those that have been in “close contact”.
Agriculture Coordination Officer
DAF have re-badged 100 existing regional staff around Queensland as Agriculture Coordination Officers to support producers and industries during the COVID pandemic. Clinton McGrath from Toowoomba has been assigned to the Queensland berry industries. Clinton can be contact on: Clinton.Mcgrath@daf.qld.gov.au
|Support measure||Eligibility||How to access||Timelines|
|Payroll tax relief package
* refunds of payroll tax for 2 months
* a payroll tax holiday for 3 months
* deferral of paying payroll tax for the 2020 calendar year
|A business that is directly or indirectly affected by coronavirus if their current turnover, profit, customers, bookings, retail sales, supply contracts or other factors are negatively affected compared with normal operating conditions.||Apply online at:||You must apply for refund or holiday before 31 May 2020|
|Queensland COVID-19 jobs support loans
You may be eligible for a loan to retain employees and maintain your operations up to $250,000
|Queensland businesses impacted by COVID-19 to help retain employees and maintain their operations||Visit the QRIDA website to register your interest in this loan facility||Register your interest now – Loans are not yet available|
|Small and medium business power bill relief
Small and medium businesses may be eligible for a $500 rebate off energy bills
|Businesses who consume less than 100,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) will receive the rebate.||This will be automatically applied on your business electricity bills||Next billing cycle|
|Household bill relief
$200 rebate for all 2.1 million Queensland households to offset the cost of water and electricity bills
|All Queensland households with a household electricity account||This will be automatically applied on household electricity bills||Next billing cycle|
|Support measure||Eligibility||How to access||Timelines|
|Business Support Fund
One-off grants of $10,000 to businesses most impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak as part of a $500 million fund
|Small to medium businesses who employ staff with a turnover of more than $75,000 and a payroll of less than $650,000||For more information and to apply CLICK HERE||Applications open until 1 June 2020|
|Payroll tax refund and deferral
* Refund or waiving of payroll tax for the 2019-20 financial year
* Defer paying payroll tax for the first quarter of the 2020-21 financial year
|Small and medium-sized businesses with total payroll of less than $3 million||State Revenue Office will directly contact eligible businesses||In line with normal lodgement of returns|
|Land tax deferral
Option of deferring 2020 land tax payment until after 31 December 2020
|Land owners due to pay 2020 land tax that have at least one non-residential property and total taxable landholdings below $1 million||State Revenue Office will contact all taxpayers who are eligible for this deferral||From now until 31 December 2020|
To keep up to date with the latest changes and support to business please refer to the following links:
Latest policy updates and support for business: https://www.wa.gov.au/organisation/department-of-the-premier-and-cabinet/covid-19-coronavirus-business-and-industry-advice
Latest information on COVID-19 and the impacts on the Agriculture sector https://www.dpird.wa.gov.au/covid19-business
Matters relating to small business and specific information on the latest initiatives: https://www.smallbusiness.wa.gov.au/
The Small Business Development Corporation has a COVID-19 assistance centre providing support options for businesses they can be contacted via:
- 133 140 (8:30am to 4:30pm weekdays) or
- email email@example.com
For more information visit https://www.smallbusiness.wa.gov.au/coronavirus
Latest information about payroll tax affecting WA’s business can be found here:
|Support measure||Eligibility||How to access||Timelines|
|One-off grants of $17,500 to small and medium businesses||Small and medium businesses whose annual Australian Taxable Wages are between $1 million and $4 million||No applications are required||Grants will automatically be paid from July|
|Fast-track payroll tax relief for small businesses||The payroll tax threshold will be increased to $1 million from 1 July 2020||Automatically applied||From 1 July 2020|
|Waiver of Payroll Tax||Payroll tax will be waivered from March to June 2020 for businesses that have Australian taxable wages of less than $7.5 million at 30 June 2020||Waiver replaces the previous deferred payment announced earlier|
|Deferred payment 2019-20 payroll tax||Employers, or groups of employers, with Australian taxable wages of $5 million or more at 29 February, or new employers registered for payroll tax from 1 March 2020, can apply to defer lodgement and payment of returns. Payroll tax for March to June 2020 will be waived at annual reconciliation if Australian taxable wages are less than $7.5 million at 30 June 2020||Department of Finance website|
New South Wales
|Support measure||Eligibility||How to access||Timelines|
|Small business support grant||Small business support grant The NSW small business COVID-19 support grant of up to $10,000 is available to eligible NSW small business owners.
To be eligible, businesses will need to:
• have between 1-19 employees and a turnover of more than $75,000
• a payroll below the NSW Government 2019-20 payroll tax threshold of $900,000
• have an Australian Business Number as at 1 March 2020, be based in NSW and employ staff as at 1 March 2020
• be highly impacted by the Public Health (COVID-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order 2020 issued on 30 March 2020
• use the funding for unavoidable business costs such as utilities, overheads, legal costs and financial advice
• provide appropriate documentation upon application. Apply here
|To apply CLICK HERE||Unknown|
|Payroll tax changes
• Tax-free threshold increases from $900,000 to $1 million.
• Deferral of payroll tax for business with payrolls over $10 million for 6 months (up to $4 billion deferred).
• An additional 3-month deferral for businesses with payrolls of $10 million or less who received a 3-month waiver on payroll tax in the first package.
|Businesses with payrolls of up to $10 million for Waiver
Businesses with payrolls of less than $1 million will be exempt from payroll tax from 2020-21 tax year
|Reductions in general fees & costs||For small businesses including bars, cafes, restaurants and tradies||No information supplied||No information supplied|
|Support measure||Eligibility||How to access||Timelines|
|Emergency Cash Grants for Small Businesses
One-off $10,000 cash grants to support operation of small businesses and not-for profit entities impacted by COVID-19 related restrictions
|Businesses with an annual turnover of more than $75,000 and annual payroll less than $1.5 million, that are not entitled to a payroll tax waiver under the SA government COVID-19 support measures||For more information and to apply CLICK HERE||Applications open until 1 June 2020
|Payroll Tax Waiver
No requirement to pay payroll tax for April to September 2020
|Businesses with annual wages of up to $4 million||No application required – RevenueSA will notify eligible businesses||In line with normal lodgement of returns
|Payroll Tax Deferral
Deferral of payroll tax payments for April to September 2020 until October 2020
|Businesses with annual wages above $4 million, that can demonstrate they have been significantly impacted by COVID-19||Online application. For more information CLICK HERE||In line with normal lodgement of returns
|Land Tax Deferral
Deferment of third and fourth quarter installments for up to six months
|Businesses and individuals paying land tax quarterly in 2019-2020||No application required – RevenueSA will contact eligible taxpayers||Until 31 December 2020|
|Land Tax Reform Transition Fund
Relief for affected taxpayers increased from 50% to 100% of the increase in 2020-21 land tax assessment
|Eligible taxpayers whose land tax bill will increase as a result of the changes in the aggregation of land||For more information CLICK HERE|
|Job Accelerator Grants
Criteria to maintain employment levels to receive ongoing support has been relaxed
|Available to businesses who have already applied (applications closed)||For more information CLICK HERE|
|Support measure||Eligibility||How to access||Timelines|
|Payroll Tax Waivers
Businesses with payrolls of up to $5 million will be able to apply, based on the impact of virus, to have their payroll tax waived for April to June 2020
|Businesses with payrolls of up to
$5 million (outside of hospitality, tourism & seafood industry businesses)
|Application Process||No information supplied|
|Emergency Relief Payments for those in isolation
One-off payments of $250 for individuals or up to $1,000 for families
|Those who are required by Public Health to self-isolate as a result of the coronavirus||Visit Tasmanian Government website||No information supplied|
COVID-19 :: Current Border & Travel Restrictions
Queensland – Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) | Queensland Government
Updated at 24th April 2020
- Queensland border restrictions
- Apply for an entry pass
- Queensland border restrictions fact sheet
- Get help understanding the directive
QLD BORDER RESTRICTIONS
To slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the Queensland Government is tightening restricted entry into Queensland.
Only Queensland residents, residents of border communities undertaking essential activities, and those considered an ‘exempt person’ can cross the border.
New restrictions apply from 12.01 am Saturday 11 April 2020 that will place further restrictions on people who have been to a COVID-19 hotspot in Australia.
These restrictions provide for the continuation of essential goods and services for Queenslanders.
As this information is changing over time, please refer directly to the UPDATED Border Information
For anyone bringing employees to Queensland from interstate (regular staff, seasonal workers or backpackers) you must complete each of the following steps to avoid them being refused entry:
- Employer needs to submit a Health Plan to Queensland health (see attached QLD Health template) outlining what steps you are taking to minimise risks of COVID_19 transmission. It needs to be submitted to this central email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Employee needs a letter from the employer stating company details (ie. letterhead) including phone, farm location, key contact. The letter needs to state that “Joe Bloggs will be working from our farm from xxxx date. Agriculture is considered a critical and exempt industry”
- Employee needs to obtain a Border Pass – https://www.qld.gov.au/border-pass . NB: if they are not Queensland residents they will need to tick the box that states “Specialist critical to maintaining key government services and FIFO”
- If the employee has been in a known hot spot area of Sydney (the following Local Government areas: Blacktown, Canterbury-Bankstown, Central Coast, Cumberland, Inner West, Ku-ring-gai, Northern Beaches, Randwick, Ryde, Sutherland Shire, Sydney, Waverley, Woollahra) they must self-quarantine for 14 days)
Note: It is advised that staff travelling up from southern states to Queensland carry all of these bits of paper (including a copy of the health plan). The border crossings are a sea of confusion with Qld Police Service not necessarily following the same advice that we are receiving.
South Australia – COVID-19 – Home
Updated at 15/5/20
A direction was issued by the State Coordinator on travel into South Australia. Check the SA Police website for up to date information about traveling across the border.
Restrictions have been placed on some non-essential services. All agricultural industries and related businesses across the food supply chain are an essential service. They can continue to operate as usual:
- trucks and freight services carrying food and produce
- feed, hay, fertiliser and other agriculture products
- Veterinary and animal health/welfare services
- people who have skills that are critical to agricultural or primary industries and who need to be physically present in South Australia
- farmers with properties on either side of the border. They can move machinery, livestock and bees.
Note: Some essential travellers must now keep records of close contact for a 14 day period commencing on the date of arrival in South Australia. For more information go to https://www.covid-19.sa.gov.au/restrictions-and-responsibilities/travel-restrictions
Transporting workers in the same vehicle
• You can transport workers in the same vehicle because primary industries are an essential service and need to continue to be operational.
• You must maintain the social distancing requirement of at least 1.5 meters between people. For example, 2 people in a sedan will meet the requirement.
• Make sure fresh air is circulated in the vehicle for the duration of the journey.
• Clean the inside of vehicles regularly and disinfect surfaces. Paying particular attention to frequently touched surfaces. Information on cleaning and disinfection principles for COVID-19 is available from the Department of Health.
• Also practice good hand hygiene by regularly washing hands with soap and water or using hand sanitiser.
This information may change frequently so for the most up-to-date information always check www.covid-19.sa.gov.au
Western Australia – COVID-19 Hub
Updated at 15th May 2020
WA’s Roadmap out of Restrictions
For updates on the easing of restrictions that will start to come into effect on the 18th May 2020 please refer to this website.
The following websites provide information regarding travel restrictions into and within WA:-
Agriculture specific information can be found here https://www.dpird.wa.gov.au/covid19-travel-restrictions
Please note the changes in regional borders
Anyone that is travelling between regions within WA does not need to complete a 14 day isolation period unless asked to do so by their respective employer or government official.
Please note the revised government restriction has been removed with regards to people travelling around in a vehicle. A vehicle is no longer deemed as a public space & are now exempt from social distancing requirements. Confirmed, under the Closure and Restriction (Limit the Spread) Directions (No 2) dated 26 April 2020, the prohibited gathering restrictions do not apply to motor vehicles – para 12(v).
Permits are required to enter WA and across regional borders.
Permits can be obtained via:
- The G2G app is available to lodge permits to travel both to and within Western Australia. The link to the app can be found HERE
- Once submitted and approved you will receive a QR code that will be scanned at the borders
- Forms can be downloaded filled out using the link Permit Forms and must be emailed to WAEntryRequest@police.wa.gov.au. You must provide documentation with the application
- Please be aware of the stricter quarantine measures in the Kimberly region.
- Please allow 7-10 days for processing due to the demand in permit applications
- The minimum amount of information required is that you have in possession either a letter, text message or email from your employer as evidence for a reason to cross the border.
More information has also been provided about where regional and other travel restriction boundaries intersect highways and roads for each region – find it HERE
New South Wales – COVID-19 advice
- Media release – NSW steps up to help primary industries sector navigate COVID-19
There are no current border controls in NSW.
Primary industry production and related businesses and the entire food supply chain are NOT impacted by the COVID-19 restrictions. These businesses can continue to operate on a ‘business as usual’ basis, though should attempt to practice appropriate social distancing measures.
There has been some easing of restrictions in Victoria and there are now 5 reasons to leave home:
• shopping for what you need – food and essential supplies
• medical, care or compassionate needs
• exercise in compliance with the public gathering requirements
• work and study if you can’t work or learn remotely
• visiting friends and family – if you really need to
Victorians are still directed to stay at home except for the above reasons.
Restrictions on outdoor gatherings, recreation and sport have also been eased.
FIND OUT MORE
The Victorian government is conducting a blitz on coronavirus testing. Around 150,000 tests have been performed so far in May, with another 150,000 to be done by the end of the month.
The government is encouraging anyone with even very mild symptoms to get tested.
For more information, and to find where to go to get a test, CLICK HERE
Cross Border Travel – there are currently no restrictions on travel across Victorian borders other than those imposed by neighbouring states.
Travelling in vehicles
Carrying passengers in a car should be avoided unless they live together in a household.
Cars represent an enclosed space where there may be a heightened risk of transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19). Travelling as a passenger in a car, or carrying multiple passengers is strongly discouraged.
Where workers are from different households and must travel together, they should try to achieve physical distancing requirements while commuting to and around the worksite.
Try to maintain at least 1.5 metres (approximately two arms-lengths) between passengers during transportation.
If commuting by bus, minibus or van, passengers should keep at least one vacant seat in all directions, separating them from other passengers.
Wherever possible vehicles should have as much fresh air circulation by adjusting air conditioning or opening windows and allowing air circulation between trips by leaving windows down.
Vehicles should be regularly cleaned, and surfaces disinfected – paying particular attention to frequently touched surfaces.
- Have alcohol-based hand sanitiser for their own use and available for use by their passengers
- Provide closed bins in vehicles where appropriate to enable the hygienic disposal of waste and rubbish such as used tissues, immediately after use.
If any workers are unwell, even with mild cold and flu like symptoms, they should not be allowed in the vehicle and should isolate themselves at home. If the unwell person is not at home, use a private car driven by the person or an existing close contact to travel home and self-isolate.
Tasmania – COVID-19 Hub
The Tasmanian Government declared a State of Emergency. Strict requirements to quarantine in government-provided accommodation are now in place
9/4/20 – Peter Gutwein, Premier
This Easter, the gloves are coming off.
Despite repeated pleas, it is clear that some people simply are not abiding by the law – which is, stay home unless you have a valid reason to go out, such as for essential supplies.
If you break this law, you risk being arrested and charged, and you could end with a fine of $16,800, or even time in prison.
This is not a game, it is deadly serious.
We now have an outbreak of the coronavirus in the North-West, which has shown just how quickly and aggressively the virus can spread.
And we must do everything we can to prevent that outbreak – or any other incidence of the virus in the state – from spreading.
Remember, it only took one person to cause an infection of more than 1 million people across the world.
Unfortunately, despite my warnings, over recent days we have been receiving anecdotal reports of people traveling to their shacks for Easter.
This is simply not on. It is putting everyone at risk.
That’s why I am asking anyone who has seen shack-goers turning up in the last few days, or over the coming days, to report this activity to the police on 131 444.
And that’s why, over coming days police will be undertaking a stay-at-home compliance blitz, right around the state.
Anyone flouting these laws and putting lives at risk will feel the full weight of the law.
So, do not go to your shack this Easter.
Do not travel out of your direct municipality unless it is essential.
Do not leave home unless it is essential.
- Going to work, if you can’t work from home
- Doing exercise, but keep it locally to your home – like a walk or jog, maybe a bike ride around your home
- Going to get essential supplies like food or medical supplies – but it doesn’t mean go every single day
- Caring for someone.
If you are out of your home, don’t be surprised if you are stopped by police and asked why.
Don’t look for loopholes. If in doubt, don’t do it.
COVID-19 :: Accessing & Managing Labour
Agriculture industry engagement on COVID-19
The Government have appointed Mark Tucker as the Senior Agriculture Industry Engagement Officer. Mark is a former Deputy Secretary of the Department of Agriculture. He has a strong understanding of Australia’s agriculture industry. Mark Tucker will be the central point of contact for industry groups. This includes agriculture, fisheries and forestry stakeholders. He will work with Australian and state governments to ensure industry perspectives inform decisions.
Mark wants to hear from you. You can help identify the critical issues for industry by emailing any identified issues to: email@example.com
The federal ministers have been working on ways to meet the ongoing needs for the agriculture workforce.
Horticulture industries, in particular, rely on migrant workers. Changes to temporary visas will help producers access the workers they need. This secures Australia’s food and produce supply during COVID-19.
Working Holiday Makers (WHMs) who work in agriculture or food processing will be:
- exempt from the 6-month limit on work with the 1 employer
- eligible for a further visa to keep working in these critical sectors, if their current visa is due to expire in the next 6 months.
These measures provide further job opportunities to support business and secure Australia’s food supply.
Meeting workforce principles
All visa holders must meet all current state and territory requirements. These cover self-isolation, social distancing, hygiene and appropriate accommodation.
You can use the Harvest Trail website service, a FREE service for employers seeking agriculture workers.
If you are an employer needing harvest workers you can either:
- Phone the HLS provider in your area to discuss your labour needs
- Phone the National Harvest Labour Information Service on 1800 062 332, Monday to Friday from 8am to 8pm (AEST)
- Complete a harvest labour request form and email it to the address on the form
- Advertise harvest jobs directly on the jobactive website. You will need to login before creating a job advertisement.
Read more on our Help for harvest employers page.
Using Labour Hire Services
Labour Hire Services must be licensed in certain states. To find a licensed provider follow these links:
To find a licensed provider – use the Qld Search Portal
To search the list of licensed providers – use the Search Function
Additional information for Victoria
The Victorian Government has set up a $500 million Working for Victoria Fund, to help workers who have lost jobs find new opportunities. Both employees looking for work, and employers looking for workers, can register HERE
As part of this fund, the government has put in place a $50 million agriculture workforce initiative to support the agriculture sector and regional communities. Regional development Victoria and Agriculture Victoria are working together to match displaced workers to vital industries, including horticulture.
The initiative will also help pay for training expenses to ensure redeployed workers have fast access to any necessary training, and support for relocation if needed.
For more information on the agriculture workforce plan and to register, CLICK HERE
Additional information for Western Australia
The latest information on securing labour supply for Agriculture and other generic information can be found:
https://www.dpird.wa.gov.au/securing-labour-supply Please note this website is updated regularly.
COVID-19 – securing labour supply
At a glance
- Temporary visa changes in place to secure seasonal agricultural labour supply.
- Western Australian travel restrictions enable movement of agricultural workers with proof of employment.
- Additional safeguards in place to manage risk and maintain health and safety and support business continuity.
- A declaration confirming that appropriate accommodation arrangements are in place is required for agricultural employers utilising Working Holiday Makers (WHM).
- Agricultural businesses employing WHM must prepare a COVID-19 Health Management Plan as part of their occupational health and safety management responsibility.
- Food businesses should refer to the WA Department of Health ‘Practices and Principles to reduce the risk of impacts of COVID-19 on a food business workplace’ document.
- Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) to work with industry in coming weeks to determine finer details.
In response to numerous requests by backpackers and other job seekers to growers, a generic response has been provided that can copy and paste into a reply email to all those looking for work below:
Thanks for sending us an email. I am afraid this email address cannot find you a job. Jobs in WA Food & Ag exists to point you in the right direction.
I encourage you to:
1. Subscribe at https://www.jobsinwafoodandag.com/ for email updates
2. Follow the Facebook page where we post any jobs we do receive https://www.facebook.com/jobswafoodandag/
3. Create a profile at https://studium.work/ where employers can find your CV.
As part of the DPIRD and FoodAllianaceWA’s collaborative initiative to support jobs and fill the seasonable labour shortage issues across WA’s agrifood sector the following website has been developed to connect worker with regional employers, labour-hire companies and recruitment business jobsinwafoodandag.com. It is recommended that you start planning recruitment numbers early.
Information on the initiative can be found here https://www.mediastatements.wa.gov.au/Pages/McGowan/2020/03/Initiatives-to-supply-agricultural-labour.aspx
DPIRD in partnership with WA tech start-up Studium is providing support to regional employers seeking employees with relevant skills and experience through a regional-specific job matching service to help simplify the recruitment process.
Both websites link with each other. For more information visit jobsinwafoodandag.com or Facebook ‘WA Jobs in Food & Ag’.
Please contact Melissa Denning if you are having trouble or would like help with accessing workers via Melissa.Denning@vegetableswa.com.au or 0477 477 044
Additional information for Queensland
Out-of-work Queenslanders can register with a new online portal aimed at linking job seekers with job opportunities.
The Queensland Government’s Jobs Finder Queensland web portal asks Queenslanders who are looking for work to provide information on their skills, location and work experience.
That information can then be readily matched to available jobs. The initiative is part of the Government’s $4 billion package of measures to support health, jobs and business doing it tough due to COVID-19.
Additional information for Tasmania
Govt. support package for Temporary Visa Holders
The Tasmanian Government has announced a number of initiatives to support vulnerable persons residing in Tasmania on temporary visas.
The government notes it has an estimated 26,000 temporary visa holders currently residing in Tasmania, including students, fruit pickers, and skilled workers such as chefs and health workers. Business restrictions and closures and the restrictions have caused incomes for many of these individuals to temporary visa holders in Tasmania to be stopped or severely curtailed, and they are excluded from accessing financial support through Centrelink.
The Tasmanian Government has launched a COVID-19 Safe Workplaces Framework to support businesses and workplaces to continue to operate, or reopen, while protecting Tasmania’s health and safety.
The Framework is made up of three key parts:
- Minimum standards to manage the ongoing risk of COVID-19 in workplaces. These minimum standards will be established as a new regulation in the Work Health and Safety Regulations.
- COVID-19 Safe Workplace Guidelines to provide more detail on how sectors and workplaces can meet the minimum standards.
- COVID-19 Safety Plans to outline how each workplace complies with the minimum standards.
Safe Workplace Guidelines are being developed for sectors and workplaces, through consultation with industry sectors. These will act as a practical guide on how workplaces can meet the Minimum Standards for their sectors.
All businesses operating in Tasmania will be required to develop and implement a COVID-19 Safety Plan from 15 June. This includes businesses that are currently operating, re-opening, and/or have been identified to have restrictions eased in coming weeks as outlined in the Tasmanian Government’s Roadmap to Recovery.
The Tasmanian Government has released checklists and templates to help businesses develop workplace COVID-19 Safety Plans for their enterprises. Details within COVID-19 Safety Plan will depend on the size and nature of each workplace.
WorkSafe Tasmania has advised that WorkSafe Inspectors will be monitoring businesses on the compliance with their COVID-19 Safety Plans and the Safe Workplaces Framework and Guidelines.
Temporary visa work arrangements
The Federal Government are making a number of changes to temporary visa holder arrangements during the coronavirus crisis in order to protect the health of our community, safeguard job opportunities for Australians, support critical industries, and assist with rapid recovery.
Employers are still required to abide by all relevant Australian workplace laws. Overseas workers, including international students, have the same rights under Australian workplace law as all other employees.
- Coronavirus and Temporary Visa holders
- Joint media release with the Hon Michael McCormack and the Hon David Littleproud MP – Supporting the agriculture workforce during COVID-19
The Federal Government will apply flexible arrangements to allow critical workers, including Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme participants and Working Holiday Makers, to extend their stay in Australia:
- Seasonal Worker Programme workers with visas due to expire will be able to apply for a Temporary Activity (subclass 408) visa in the Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream.
- Pacific Labour Scheme workers with visas due to expire can apply for a new Temporary Work (International Relations) (subclass 403) Pacific Labour scheme stream visa.
- Workers currently in Australia under these programs will also be exempt from the requirement to work for a single employer and will be able to move between approved employers.
In addition, Working Holiday Makers who are working in critical sectors (eg agriculture, aged or health care) will be exempt from the 6 month work limitation with one employer and eligible for a Temporary Activity (subclass 408) visa in the Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream.
COVID-19 changes to the Horticulture Award
At the initiation of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) a new schedule will be inserted into 99 modern awards including the Horticulture Award 2010. The new schedule provides for additional entitlements as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The new addition will provide an entitlement to:
- Unpaid “pandemic” leave and
- The flexibility to take annual leave at half pay
These variations will operate from 8 April 2020 until 30 June 2020, but may be extended.
The schedule to be inserted into the Horticulture Award is as follows:
Schedule X—Additional measures during the COVID-19 pandemic
X.1 Subject to clauses X.2.1.(d) and X.2.2(c), Schedule X operates from 8 April 2020 until 30 June 2020. The period of operation can be extended on application.
X.2 During the operation of Schedule X, the following provisions apply:
X.2.1 Unpaid pandemic leave
a) Subject to clauses X.2.1(b), (c) and (d), any employee is entitled to take up to 2 weeks’ unpaid leave if the employee is required, by government or medical authorities or acting on the advice of a medical practitioner, to self-isolate and is consequently prevented from working, or is otherwise prevented from working by measures taken by government or medical authorities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
b) The employee must give their employer notice of the taking of leave under clause X.2.1(a) and of the reason the employee requires the leave, as soon as practicable (which may be a time after the leave has started).
c) An employee who has given their employer notice of taking leave under clause X.2.1(a) must, if required by the employer, give the employer evidence that would satisfy a reasonable person that the leave is taken for a reason given in clause X.2.1(a).
d) A period of leave under clause X.2.1(a) must start before 30 June 2020, but may end after that date
e) Leave taken under clause X.2.1(a) does not affect any other paid or unpaid leave entitlement of the employee and counts as service for the purposes of entitlements under this Award and the National Employment Standards.
NOTE: The employer and employee may agree that the employee may take more than 2 weeks’ unpaid pandemic leave.
X2.2 Annual leave at half pay
a) Instead of an employee taking paid annual leave on full pay, the employee and their employer may agree to the employee taking twice as much leave on half pay
b) Any agreement to take twice as much annual leave at half pay must be recorded in writing and retained as an employee record.
c) A period of leave under clause X.2.2(a) must start before 30 June 2020, but may end after that date.
EXAMPLE: Instead of an employee taking one week’s annual leave on full pay, the employee and their employer may agree to the employee taking 2 weeks’ annual leave on half pay. In this example:
- the employee’s pay for the 2 weeks’ leave is the same as the pay the employee would have been entitled to for one week’s leave on full pay (where one week’s full pay includes leave loading under the Annual Leave clause of this award);2 and
- one week of leave is deducted from the employee’s annual leave accrual.
NOTE 1: A employee covered by this Award who is entitled to the benefit of clause X.2.1 or X.2.2 has a workplace right under section 341(1)(a) of the Act.
NOTE 2: Under section 340(1) of the Act, an employer must not take adverse action against an employee because the employee has a workplace right, has or has not exercised a workplace right, or proposes or does not propose to exercise a workplace right, or to prevent the employee exercising a workplace right. Under section 342(1) of the Act, an employer takes adverse action against an employee if the employer dismisses the employee, injures the employee in his or her employment, alters the position of the employee to the employee’s prejudice, or discriminates between the employee and other employees of the employer.
NOTE 3: Under section 343(1) of the Act, a person must not organise or take, or threaten to organise or take, action against another person with intent to coerce the person to exercise or not exercise, or propose to exercise or not exercise, a workplace right, or to exercise or propose to exercise a workplace right in a particular way.
Other important points
- The Pandemic Leave entitlement will:
- be available in full immediately – it will not accrue progressively during a year of service like annual leave or personal leave.
- be available to full-time, part-time and casual employees. It is not pro-rated
- it will not be necessary for employees to exhaust their paid leave entitlements before accessing Pandemic Leave.
- Annual leave and personal leave will
- accrue as normal during annual leave at half pay.
- if paid, including at half pay, time will count towards service for the purposes of all NES and award entitlements.
The full FWC decision can be found HERE.
Changes to private sector employee leave entitlements – WA only
The Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission has issued a new order – it allows all State system private sector employees, including casual staff, up to two weeks’ unpaid pandemic leave to cover periods they are required to self-isolate by government or medical authorities.
Flexible provisions for annual leave are also included. Employees can double their annual leave at half pay or take annual leave in advance if agreed by their employer.
State system employers include sole traders, partnerships, unincorporated trust arrangements, and some not-for-profit bodies and incorporated associations.
The new terms will be in place until July 31, 2020, unless extended.
FIND OUT MORE
COVID-19 :: Managing your Workplace Health & Safety Obligations
What are the state and territory helplines an employer should contact if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19?
New South Wales – Healthdirect – 1800 022 222
Queensland – 13 Health – 13 43 25 84
Victoria – Coronavirus Hotline – 1800 675 398
South Australia – SA COVID-19 Information Line – 1800 253 787
Tasmania – Tasmanian Public Health Hotline – 1800 671 738
Western Australia – 13 26843 (13Covid)
Australian Capital Territory – Healthdirect – 1800 022 222
Northern Territory – Use the National Coronavirus Information Helpline – 1800 020 080
SafeWork Australia has released a series of resources to help you manage workers in your business to reduce the risk from COVID-19.
These resources include the following:
- Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19
- Preparing Workers for COVID-19
- What to do if a worker has COVID-19
- Agriculture: Minimising the risk of exposure to COVID-19
The site includes a very useful page – Staying informed about COVID-19 – with direct links to all the major government websites where regular updates are being made.
Using Transport like Minibuses or Coaches to transport workers?
COVID-19 Hygiene Awareness For Passenger Transport Drivers is available now. This is a FREE course for drivers of personalised transport vehicles with information on suitable hygiene practices for the current COVID-19 Pandemic & beyond.
Concerned about the safety & practices that your transport & delivery drivers are using?
COVID-19 Hygiene Awareness For Truck & Delivery Drivers. This is a FREE course for Truck and Delivery Drivers with information on suitable hygiene practices for the current COVID-19 Pandemic & beyond.
Commuting and accommodating seasonal/contract workers during coronavirus (COVID-19)
The Victorian State Government has provided some useful guidelines to help business manage workers safely where those workers need to travel to and from the business and are living in shared accomodation.
Guide to COVID-19 in the orchard and packing shed
Citrus Australia has developed a Guide to COVID-19: In the orchard and packing shed.
It’s a one-stop shop for citrus growers and packers dealing with COVID-19 in the workplace. There may be useful information for berry growers as well. It’s updated weekly with all the latest updates so you can keep across business and workforce management tips, food safety and additional checklists and resources.
Accommodating Backpackers in Qld
- The Queensland Government has indicated that as backpackers are a temporary resident at a hostel, they are subject to home confinement and should only leave the premises for the permitted purposes and must observe social distancing.
- Backpackers and seasonal workers looking for harvest work are requested not to show up at a farm and asked to register their availability at jobsearch.gov.au/harvest
- DAF have paid adverts on social media communicating this information and are also using networks like YHA to share the information with backpackers
Additional information for WA
The following website has generic information provided by the WA health department
The following are the latest developments in ensuring labour supply throughout the Agriculture Sector, please refer to https://www.dpird.wa.gov.au/securing-labour-supply for the latest updates
- Agricultural workers able to move within the state as long as they have proof of employment, this includes Working Holiday Makers (WHMs). Ensure they follow the travel guidelines
- Businesses employing WHMs must prepare a COVID-19 Risk Minimisation Work Plan as part of their occupational health and safety management responsibility
- Appropriate accommodation arrangements must be in place with adequate social distancing including a declaration that appropriate accommodation arrangements are in place
- All WHMs must adhere to COVID-19 risk mitigation measures and directives that apply to all other persons in Western Australia and protocols in their workplace and accommodation. Failure to do so will result in penalties and may put their visa at risk.
Note: DPIRD are currently collaborating with other government departments and industry to develop templates and plans. They will be available here https://www.dpird.wa.gov.au/securing-labour-supply
Key Recommendations for WHM and their employers to ensure they comply with visa requirements
- Ensure all parties are aware of the safety measures in the workplace for minimising the risk of COVID-19 and that they are followed
- A declaration must be signed by all parties acknowledging their obligations in minimising the risk of the spread of COVID-19
- Ensure accommodation meets requirements for social distancing
- Onus is on the WHM if the accommodation is not provided on-site to ensure it meets the social distancing rules
- If off-site, they must provide the employers with the address of the site
- The WHM is expected to take responsibility for practicing social distancing at the accommodation and in the workplace
- Have appropriate transport arrangements to and from their place of work, in keeping with COVID-19 social distancing measures
- If the employer offers onsite accommodation to the WHM, it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure the accommodation meets the requirements for social distancing
Advice on social distancing can be found here
Declaration forms will be provided on DPIRD’s COVID- 19 website
COVID-19 safeguards for employers of WHMs in Western Australia
- It is recommended that employers implement risk mitigation work plans. This includes identifying risks at the workplace and, where possible, eliminating or minimising those risks for general WHS compliance including COVID-19.
- Guidance for managing COVID-19 risk in the workplace in agriculture is available https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/covid-19-information-workplaces/industry-information-covid-19
- A declaration confirming that they understand and will follow the protocols in place in the COVID-19 Risk Minisimsation Work Plan to meet the requirements of safe distancing must be signed by the employer and employee and copies kept by all parties. (Examples of forms will be provided shortly on the DPIRD website)
In developing a plan, consideration for the following is recommended:
- Physical distancing
- Health checks and quarantine
- Premise hygiene
- Personal hygiene
- Deliveries to the workplace
- Consultation and communication with workers
- If using barriers e.g. Perspex in sheds, please enact a cleaning regime and they have to be able to big enough to prevent exposure.
The WA Department of Health has developed a primary guideline to assist WA employers in developing work plans for their businesses. The ‘Practices and Principles to reduce the risk of impacts of COVID-19 on a food business workplace’ document is expected to be available soon.
Employer-WHMs employee declaration of understanding
It is expected that employers and WHMs will sign a declaration confirming that they understand and will follow the protocols in place in the COVID-19 Risk Minisimisation Work Plan to meet the requirements of safe distancing.
DPIRD are currently working on these forms for employers to utilise; they will be made available on the DPIRD website shortly.
Any questions please contact your Berries IDO – Katie Dunne on 0428 335 724
COVID-19 :: Ensuring Food Safety through this crisis
Advice from Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is COVID-19 is unlikely to be transmitted through food, however investigations into how the virus spreads are continuing.
It’s important for food businesses to be extra vigilant with all aspects of health and hygiene, to ensure no-one contaminates the surfaces in your packing or processing environment because of illness or unclean habits.
Safe Food Production Queensland (Safe Food) is working with other Queensland agencies to provide a whole of government approach to managing and assisting with the impacts of novel coronavirus COVID-19.
PMA-ANZ has additional resources for Fresh Food Businesses
Freshcare have also created a set of additional resources that may be useful
COVID-19 :: Accessing Assistance with Exports
The Federal Government has announced a new $110 million initiative to provide airfreight support for essential agriculture, fisheries and forestry industries.
Products eligible may include:
- Horticulture (such as premium fruits and packages salad or vegetables)
- Premium red meat
The destination countries include:
- Hong Kong
This list may be expanded in the future based on demand, operating method and commercial opportunities.
The Australian departure points will be:
Additional capacity for air freight is coming on line for certain markets. Growers and other potential exporters are urged to complete the online survey. Complete the survey online here.
New markets will be offered the subsidised freight service if demand can be estimated. Without information the access to new markets (and additional capacity to the nominated markets) will not be available.
Ministerial press release, 23 April: https://www.trademinister.gov.au/minister/simon-birmingham/media-release/new-air-freight-network-boost-agricultural-and-fisheries-exports
Accompanying fact sheet: https://www.trademinister.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-04/ifam-fact-sheet.pdf
Austrade updated webpage with additional details https://www.austrade.gov.au/news/news/international-freight-assistance-mechanism
The Australian Government’s $1 billion COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Fund supports the communities, regions and industries that are most significantly affected by the economic impacts of coronavirus. A key component of the Fund is the International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM), a scheme designed to assist Australian agricultural and fisheries producers to export their premium produce to priority markets.
In addition to the IFAM, the Australian Government is coordinating with industry to assist unblocking current supply challenges. Exporters have an increasing range of options available to them. The IFAM is one option. The range of options is described in the ATTACHED FACT SHEET.
The announcement of the 9 airlines and 6 freight forwarders for IFAM came out 23/4/20. READ THE ANNOUNCEMENT HERE
PMA-ANZ Export Resources
PMA-ANZ hosted another successful virtual session with over 80 fresh produce professionals looking at the impact of COVID-19 on the trade opportunities for the fresh produce sector. They were joined by professionals from Escavox, Hort Innovation and the Australian Fresh Produce Alliance, who shared some insights into the barriers and opportunities for fresh produce during this time. You can watch the recording here if you weren’t able to participate.
They have also created a quick reference sheet to help your business navigate this difficult time.
If you have any enquiries regarding export opportunities out of WA please email firstname.lastname@example.org. DPIRD is working in partnership with the Federal Government to aid WA’s export requirements in order to keep our key export markets open.
The Queensland Government is working to overcome any transport and logistics operations challenges to ensure supply during COVID-19.
Read their regular COVID-19 freight and export market update bulletin – published each FRIDAY – for the latest information about export markets, air and sea freight availability and opportunities, and government initiatives to support trade during COVID-19.