The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is changing the way many in our industries work and live. Businesses are adapting to new legislation and policies on an almost daily basis and have had to make difficult decisions during this uncertain time.
At Hostplus, we’ve made changes to the way we work so we can continue to service all our members. That includes keeping employers updated on how the unfolding situation might affect their business and offering information and support wherever possible.
We suggest you bookmark this page so you can easily come back for more information and updates. You can also find fact sheets to download and share with your employees at any time.
For key information for your employees please encourage them to visit hostplus.com.au/covid19
Last week marked National Reconciliation Week. It’s a time for all Australians to learn about and reflect on our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia.
2020 also marks twenty years of Reconciliation Australia shaping Australia’s journey towards a more just, equitable and reconciled nation.
I’d like to take this opportunity to pay my respects to the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation, the Traditional Custodians of the land from which I write to you today. I’d also like also to acknowledge their Elders both past, present, and emerging.
As Australians, we can be very proud of the way our country has swiftly and effectively dealt with the challenges brought on by COVID-19. We are certainly not in the clear yet, but it’s incredibly pleasing to see parts of the economy reopening, especially in the significantly affected hospitality, tourism, accommodation, recreation and sports sectors. I feel a measured sense of optimism about the future and, like many of you, I’m excited about visiting and sitting at my local café again and cheering on our sports teams; initially on TV, radio and streaming broadcasts and hopefully live at venues across the country in the near future.
The last three months have been enormously challenging for a lot of Australians, but particularly for the large section of our society that has lost their job or suffered from reduced income. Many of you and your employees have experienced real financial hardship. As a profit-to-member Industry SuperFund, Hostplus is here to support our members, partners, and contributing employers at all times. I’m pleased that we’ve been able to help those most in need by processing more than 190,000 payments under the government’s early release of super scheme, totaling over $1.3 billion.
As significant as that amount is, in context it represents less than 2.6% of the total size of the fund, which is comfortably within our forecasts and planning. Indeed, the fund is in a sound financial position; not only to accommodate future early release requests that members may require between now and September, but also to take advantage of longer-term investment opportunities within financial markets around the world. This has been our experience over previous market downturns and we are confident that the fund is well-placed to deliver the best possible returns for our members.
As our nation turns its attention to the economic reconstruction period ahead – in terms of jobs and livelihoods, industries ramping back up and essential infrastructure projects being fostered – Hostplus looks forward to its role and contribution toward this effort. We are a key investor in nation-building infrastructure and in private equity and venture capital, some of which is already actively contributing to emerging technology and bio-science advances, including life preserving and enhancing breakthroughs, both at home and internationally.
Hostplus members have already seen the benefits of these important investments reflected in our long-term performance results, and they can continue to be proud that their retirement savings are not only well diversified and managed across sectors and countries, but are also actively contributing to and making a real difference in creating and sustaining jobs, providing essential community services and improving standards of living.
With the end of the financial year approaching, I encourage members to actively consider their financial objectives and look to maximize their opportunities to achieve them. Our website provides useful resources to help members understand and manage their superannuation and they also have ready access to our dedicated financial advice and planning services and team, who can help with their plans and goals and answer any questions.
To echo the theme of this year’s National Reconciliation Week, we are all In This Together and I greatly value and appreciate your ongoing understanding, loyalty and support.
David Elia, Hostplus CEO
The Federal Government’s $130 billion JobKeeper payment scheme to help keep more Australians in jobs and support businesses has now been enacted.
Eligible employers who elect to participate in the JobKeeper scheme will be able to claim a fortnightly payment of $1,500 per eligible employee on their books as at 1 March 2020. Employer eligibility is based on the size of the turnover of the business. Not-for-profit entities, including charities, and self-employed individuals (i.e. businesses without employees) that meet the applicable turnover tests are eligible to apply for JobKeeper payments too.
Employers who elect to access the scheme will receive payments in the first week of May 2020, back-dated to 30 March 2020. The payments will be available for a maximum period of approximately six months from this time.
According to the ATO*, employers will be eligible for the JobKeeper payment if all of the following apply:
*Correct at 30 April 2020. Please refer to the ATO website regularly for the most up to date and relevant information.
To determine how much a business’s turnover has decreased, employers need to compare their sales (or likely sales) for a recent month with the same month last year (for example, compare April 2019 with April 2020 sales). If an employer is working out likely sales, they need to make a reasonable estimate and document the reasons for that estimate.
The Federal Government recently announced that changes will be made to the JobKeeper program to clarify its operation, including in relation to how charities will be able to treat government revenue in relation to the turnover test. Further details should be available on the ATO JobKeeper website soon.
Employers will also have ongoing reporting obligations to the ATO as part of the JobKeeper scheme which are important to be aware of. You can find more information about these on the ATO JobKeeper website.
Employers do not have to be part of JobKeeper for the whole duration of the program. Employers can join at any time provided the employer enrols in the program prior to the end of the relevant fortnightly period from which they intend to participate and meet other requirements. If an employer is participating in the JobKeeper scheme, they must include all eligible employees.
The $1,500 per fortnight payment will be made available to employees who:
The Government recently announced that changes will be made to the JobKeeper program to clarify its operation, including in relation to the minimum age requirement. It is proposed that full time students who are aged 17 years old and younger, and who are not financially independent, will not be eligible for the JobKeeper payment. Further details should be available on the ATO JobKeeper website soon.
Eligible employers who choose to elect to participate in the JobKeeper scheme can register their interest via the ATO website.
For further information on JobKeeper, including eligibility criteria, or how to apply, visit the Treasury website.
Employers must continue to pay Superannuation Guarantee (SG) on employees’ ordinary earnings for any staff who continue to work regular or reduced hours, even if a portion of these earnings are funded by the JobKeeper payment. Accordingly, where an employee is paid more than $1,500 per fortnight for work performed, the employer’s superannuation obligations will not change. If an employee’s wages are topped up to $1,500 per fortnight by the JobKeeper payment (for example, where they are stood down or earn less than $1,500 for the work performed), it is up to the employer whether they want to pay SG on any additional amounts paid by the JobKeeper payment. This information is based on the ATO guidance currently available.
Bob continues to be employed and is working his regular (or amended) hours which results in wages of $2,000 per fortnight. His employer registers for the JobKeeper scheme and receives $1,500 per fortnight to subsidise Bob’s fortnightly earnings of $2,000. The employer will be required to pay SG on the full $2,000.
Jenny continues to be employed and is working regular (or amended) hours which results in wages of $1,000 per fortnight. Her employer registers for the JobKeeper scheme and receives $1,500 per fortnight to fully subsidise Jenny’s fortnightly earnings of $1,000. Jenny will be paid the full $1,500 per fortnight. The employer will be required to pay SG on the payment of $1,000. SG will not be required (under current guidance) on the additional $500.
Sue has been stood down from her role, however her employer maintains her employment, albeit with no working hours. Her employer registers for the JobKeeper scheme and receives $1,500 per fortnight to provide Sue with an income. Sue will be paid the full $1,500 per fortnight. The employer (under current guidance) is not required to pay SG on the $1,500 paid to Sue.
On 6 March 2020, the government introduced a superannuation guarantee (SG) amnesty. The amnesty allows employers to disclose and pay previously unpaid super guarantee charge (SGC), including nominal interest, that they owe their employees, for quarter(s) starting from 1 July 1992 to 31 March 2018, without incurring the administration component ($20 per employee per quarter) or Part 7 penalty.
If employers want to participate in the amnesty, they must apply by 7 September 2020.
The ATO understand that employers may wish to apply for the amnesty and may be concerned that, as a result of COVID-19, their circumstances may change and they will not be able to pay the liability.
The ATO has several options that allow businesses to be more flexible with their payments, including:
For more information or to apply visit the ATO website.
Eligible small, medium and not-for-profit businesses that employ staff may be able to receive up to $100,000 in temporary cashflow support. This can go towards rent, utilities and retaining staff. For more information or to apply, visit the Treasury website.
Eligible small businesses employing fewer than 20 employees who retain an apprentice or trainee may be eligible for a wage subsidy of 50% of the apprentice’s or trainee’s wages paid during 9 months from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020. Employers will be reimbursed up to a maximum of $21,000 per eligible apprentice or trainee ($7,000 per quarter). Final claims for payment must be lodged by 31 December 2020. For more information visit the Federal Government’s Business website.
There is a temporary increase to the threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company, and the time companies have to respond to statutory demands they receive. The threshold for creditors issuing a statutory demand on a company will increase from $2,000 to $20,000, and the threshold for the minimum amount of debt required for a creditor to initiate bankruptcy proceedings will increase from $5,000 to $20,000. For more information visit the Federal Government’s Business website.
There are a range of resources available to help employers and their staff during these uncertain times, a few of which are listed below. In addition to this our insurance partner, MetLife, has developed a fact sheet to help employers identify the signs of mental illness.
We also encourage those businesses with Employee Assistance Programs to facilitate engagement with their employees where appropriate.
We understand the COVID-19 pandemic and related business and social disruption has led to a deal of anxiousness, and in some cases significant financial stress, for some of your employees. And while the longer-term need to plan for retirement is important, we recognise that for some people there are more immediate needs and requirements.
Hostplus Superannuation Advisers licensed by Link Advice Pty Ltd and Hostplus Financial Planners licensed by Industry Fund Services Ltd are here to help them. The experienced team can provide timely, personal, advice to help Hostplus members with guidance and support, whether it is an immediate, short-term cashflow or budgeting need, or a longer-term objective, including:
To arrange a discussion with a Superannuation Adviser or Financial Planner, your employees can simply complete the Contact a Financial Planner form and select the ‘COVID 19 cash flow assistance’ option for the ‘How can we help you?’ question.
Consider the relevant Hostplus Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) available at hostplus.com.au and your objectives, financial situation and needs, which are not accounted for in this information, before deciding if Hostplus is appropriate for you. Hostplus has engaged Industry Fund Services Limited (IFS) ABN 54 007 016 195, AFSL 232514 to facilitate the provision of personal financial advice to members of Hostplus. Advice is provided by financial planners who are Authorised Representatives of IFS. Fees may apply. Further information about the cost of advice is set out in the relevant IFS Financial Services Guide, a copy of which is available from your financial planner.
Hostplus Superannuation Advice Consultants are Authorised Representatives of Link Advice Pty Ltd ABN 36 105 811 836, ASFL 258145 and facilitate the provision of limited personal advice about Hostplus products to Hostplus members through Super Adviser. Please call 1300 734 007 to obtain a Link Advice Financial Services Guide. Link Advice is responsible for any advice obtained through Super Adviser.