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Support for you and your employees

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.

Early release of super

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.

Rebuilding Australia and beyond

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.

Setting up your future

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.

Thank you

Finally, I’d like to thank all our members that have reached out to us recently, and especially those that have needed our assistance in their special early release of super applications. While we have been able to successfully process 96% of applications within five business days, there are inevitably some applications that require additional checks and processing to ensure accurate and secure payment, which can unfortunately delay the process. I genuinely regret that such delays may occur and that wait times are longer than normal at the moment, as we deal with a very high volume of calls, emails and messages. I can assure you that we will continue to work hard to make sure our ordinarily high standards of service and engagement are restored, and our members’ enquires and requests are dealt with as quickly as possible.

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.

 

Kind regards,

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.

Eligible employers

According to the ATO*, employers will be eligible for the JobKeeper payment if all of the following apply:

  • On 1 March 2020, you carried on a business in Australia or were a not-for-profit organisation that pursued your objectives principally in Australia.
  • You employed at least one eligible employee on 1 March 2020.
  • Your eligible employees are currently employed by your business for the fortnights you claim for (including those who are stood down or re-hired).
  • Your business has faced a
    • 30% fall in turnover (for an aggregated turnover of $1 billion or less)
    • 50% fall in turnover (for an aggregated turnover of more than $1 billion), or
    • 15% fall in turnover (for ACNC-registered charities other than universities and schools).
  • Your business is not in one of the ineligible categories.

*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.

Eligible employees

The $1,500 per fortnight payment will be made available to employees who:

  • Were employed as at 1 March 2020 and are currently employed by the employer (including those who are stood down or have been re-hired).
  • Were aged at least 16 on 1 March 2020.
  • Are full-time or part-time employees, or casual employees who are employed on a regular and systematic basis for the previous 12 months from 1 March 2020.
  • Are Australian citizens, the holder of a permanent visa or a Special Category (Subclass 444) visa holder at 1 March 2020. Further information about eligibility relating to visa and residency is available on the  Treasury website

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.

How to apply for the JobKeeper payment

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.

Example 1:

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.

Example 2:

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.

Example 3:

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.

Legally, Hostplus can't extend the due date to pay SG for employees.

Please contact the ATO on 13 10 20 or visit the ATO website for more information and access to a SG contributions calculator.

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:

  • Flexible payment terms and amounts, which will be adjusted if employer circumstances change.
  • The ability to extend the payment plan to beyond 7 September 2020, the end of the amnesty period. However, only payments made by 7 September 2020 will be deductible.

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.

The Federal Government will provide a guarantee of 50% to small and medium enterprise (SME) lenders for new unsecured loans to be used for working capital. This aims to enhance these lenders’ willingness and ability to provide credit, with the intention it will result in SMEs being able to access additional funding to help support them through the upcoming months. To be eligible to receive these loans, businesses need to have a turnover of up to $50 million. For more information, including as to the terms of the loans issued by eligible lenders that will be guaranteed by the Federal Government, 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.

Financial Advice for your employees

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:

  • budgeting advice including fixed vs flexible expenses
  • options for deferral or temporary relief, including loans and utilities
  • Services Australia (Centrelink) eligibility, including JobKeeper, JobSeeker benefit
  • financial product advice recommendations, including eligibility for special COVID-19 related early access to super.

Contact a Hostplus Superannuation Adviser or Financial Planner

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.