Category Archives: Featured News

Video message from our CEO, Graham Catt

CBC Update with CEO, Graham Catt

31 March 2020

Watch this message from our CEO, Graham Catt, with an update from the Canberra Business Chamber. It’s a challenging time right now for businesses in the ACT and the broader community. We’re here as a Chamber for our members, and believe that there’s never been a more important time for us to be supporting business.

We’ve been a voice and advocate on your behalf, with regular meetings held with the ACT Government and the Federal Government (through Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry), and speaking to the community through the media.

We know that information and resources are critical at a time like this, so we’re working hard to make sure our members get the latest and most relevant information for their business. For example, our Employer Guide which you can find at https://www.canberrabusiness.com/covid-19-guide-for-employ…/.

Connecting businesses and people is at the centre of what we do, bringing people together, helping businesses build their supply chain and connect as a community. Although we can’t do this face-to-face at the moment, we’re actively working towards ways in which we can continue to connect people through technology instead.

Our commitment to you is that we’ll continue to provide the value that we always have. Value through advocacy. Value through information & resources. And value through connection and access to networks.

We’re needed more than ever, so we want to especially thank our members for their support, and together, we’ll find our way through the next few months. They may be tough, but we’ll continue to be a strong and vibrant business community.

Media Release: Canberra Business Chamber says more support is needed for ACT business survival

sorry we're closed by still awesome sign
sorry we're closed by still awesome sign

Monday 23 March 2020

MEDIA RELEASE

Canberra Business Chamber says more support is needed for ACT business survival

As “non-essential” businesses across the ACT take steps to shut down, more support will be needed to help businesses survive in the longer term, the Canberra Business Chamber said today.

“New restrictions that shut down “non-essential services” businesses such as clubs, hotels and restaurants will decimate an industry that has been dealing with a severe downturn for months,” said Chamber CEO Graham Catt. “There’s no way to sugar coat this, the business support measures that have been announced, while welcome, won’t go far enough for the tourism and hospitality industry, and the many small businesses that supply them.”

“Furthermore, targeted financial support will be needed,” said Mr. Catt. “Businesses can’t pay staff when there are no customers and no money coming through the door. We welcome Government assistance to help businesses keep their people, but now we have to face the difficult reality that we cannot save every business or every job.”

The Chamber said that, for many businesses, Government support for “mothballing” may be the best way to help survival.

“A local retailer might need to close their doors temporarily and be given support so that they can be reinvigorated when the health crisis is over,” said Mr. Catt. “To recover from this crisis, we’ll need businesses to still exist in some form and scale up quickly to provide the jobs, and goods and services we need”.

Canberra businesses, like the community as a whole, are facing an unprecedented crisis.

“Nearly two thirds of Canberrans in jobs are employed by the private sector,” said Mr. Catt. “Businesses and their people need information, options and flexibility to make the best decisions during this period. And the support measures announced by both the Federal and ACT Governments must flow urgently to help keep as many businesses as possible afloat.”

Media Release: ACT stimulus welcome, but more will be needed says Canberra Business Chamber

man in workshop
man in workshop

Friday, 20 March 2020

MEDIA RELEASE

ACT stimulus welcome, but more will be needed says Canberra Business Chamber

The Canberra Business Chamber has welcomed the ACT Government’s announcement of a $137 million dollar stimulus package for the local economy. It has however warned that more stimulus measures may need to be fast tracked to support businesses and protect jobs.

“The ACT private sector provides almost two thirds of Canberra’s jobs,” said Canberra Business Chamber CEO Graham Catt. “Many businesses have been suffering from a severe downturn in trade since last December. Bushfires, smoke pollution and hailstorms have already taken a heavy toll economically and on mental health”.

A meeting of the Chamber’s Kindred members, including ACT industry and community groups, was convened on Wednesday 18 March 2020. “Our industry body and community group members made it clear that the impact of COVID-19 is accelerating rapidly, with new challenges facing their members each day,” said Mr. Catt.

The Chamber welcomed initiatives such as the deferral of payroll tax, rebates on commercial rates and targeted support for sectors such as hospitality, and believes these will offer some much-needed relief. But with business and community confidence at an all-time low, more support may be urgently needed.

“Businesses are telling the Chamber they need immediate financial support to survive, or they’ll have no choice but to lay off staff or even close down,” Mr. Catt said. “The initial stimulus package is welcome and will help the local economy, but the reality is many small businesses have been struggling for months and they are desperately looking for immediate and direct financial assistance”.

Mr. Catt concluded by saying, “We appreciate the steps the ACT Government has taken to engage with the business sector in developing this initial support package. The Chamber and the business community will continue to work with government so we can respond swiftly and as needed over what will be challenging weeks and months ahead”.

Chamber events postponed

Organisations around Australia, based on health advice, are introducing new policies on social contact to minimise health risks for their staff. Many Chamber members have advised that they are restricting travel and attendance at events until further notice.

The Chamber’s board of directors met today, and after consultation with ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr and other stakeholders, has decided to postpone the ACT Chief Minister’s State of the Territory Address to a later date.

We believe this decision reflects the views of our members that it is in the best interest of attendees and the broader population to avoid in-person gatherings.

We will also be postponing our upcoming Business After Business Networking Evening and International Business Connect.

If you’re a registered attendee at one of these events, we’ll be in touch with more information.

We are naturally disappointed that we need to make this decision, however, the safety of our members, staff and the community is our main concern and first responsibility. Like many organisations around Australia, we will be adapting the way we do business and while face-to-face events aren’t being held, our team are busy thinking of new and innovative ways we can keep delivering value to members in the coming months.

Practical continuity for Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

Coronavirus microscopic

By Matthew Harper, Resilient Results

There is no doubt that December – January has been a tough time for Canberra and surrounding area business.  With the fire and storm seasons still with us, we need to think about some practical steps we can take for the impact of Novel Coronavirus(2019-nCoV).

In previous coronavirus outbreaks (Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), human-to-human transmission occurred through droplets, contact and fomites (something that carries the disease from the host to the uninfected).  The World Health Organisation (WHO) has identified that the transmission modes of 2019-nCoV can be similar.

Fortunately, the practices for preventing the spread of 2019-nCoV are similar to most flu season precautions.  The following WHO suggested steps are easily implemented into business and home and can have a huge impact on the spread of both this disease and more common infections.

  1. Avoiding close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections.
  2. Frequent hand-washing, especially after direct contact with ill people or their environment.
  3. Avoiding unprotected contact with farm or wild animals.
  4. People with symptoms of acute respiratory infection should practice cough etiquette (maintain distance, cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing, and wash hands).
  5. Within healthcare facilities, enhance standard infection prevention and control practices in hospitals, especially in emergency departments.

Source WHO Novel Coronavirus(2019-nCoV) Situation Report – 9

Easy practical steps almost all businesses can take are:

  • Revise your policy for people attending work with any form of respiratory infection. If people are sick, get them to stay at home and avoid transmission.  If they can work from home, encourage them to do so until they improve or need to seek medical attention.
  • Enforce good hand washing practices in toilets, kitchens and common areas. Simple tools such as hand sanitising stations in corridors and making it a requirement to use the station when you pass it can have significant results.
  • Ensure your workplace has tissues and bins which can be used if someone is coughing and sneezing. Have cough and sneeze hygiene signs and encourage compliance.
  • Don’t share phones, utensils, mugs, towels, pens. Anything that goes near a face should not be shared.
  • Ask customers to comply with the same standards you set for your staff, but provide the tools. If you are running a business where you directly serve customers (particularly food service), provide tissues and sanitiser stations.  If there are common use surfaces, wipe them regularly and practice good hygiene with the cleaning cloths.

Some other practical steps that can be taken:

  • Consider your response to a downturn in business if people start avoiding crowds. If you can receive orders by phone and arrange open air pick ups, you may capture a new market.
  • Be careful with social media comments and traditional media statements. This is a sensitive issue and commentary can be far reaching.
  • Discuss with your staff the impact of school, sport or transport disruptions. How can you work together to solve the problem.

While these steps cannot guarantee avoiding 2019-nCoV, sensible continuity arrangements have the ability to save your business and your family.  If you have a business continuity plan, now is the time to review it.

About the Author

Matthew Harper is the Managing Director of Resilient Results, a Canberra based crisis and continuity consultancy and member of the Canberra Business Chamber.  Matthew has been involved in emergency management for over 30 years which has included time with the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre as well as planning for the 2014 Ebola outbreak.

Resilient Results provides tailored business continuity services for all sizes of businesses, from initial consultations to planning and exercising services.

Contact us via email at ineed@resilientresults.com.au or 0438 430 931

Additional Resources:

 

Image credit: Canberra Times

Changes to whistleblower requirements for businesses

whistle

From 1 January 2020, public companies, large proprietary companies and some superannuation entities are required to have a Whistleblower Policy. These must contain information about the legal protections which will be afforded to any whistleblowers and outline how the company will investigate disclosure. Even if your business doesn’t fall into one of these groups, it’s often a good idea to have such procedures in place.

What is Whistleblowing?

Whistleblowing is the disclosure by organisation members (former or current) of illegal, immoral or illegitimate practices under the control of their employers to persons that may be able to effect action.

Is my Company a ‘Large Proprietary Company’?

From financial years commencing on or after 1 July 2019, a proprietary company is defined as ‘large’ for a financial year if it satisfies at least two of the below criteria:

  • the consolidated revenue for the financial year of the company and any entities it controls is $50 million or more
  • the value of the consolidated gross assets at the end of the financial year of the company and any entities it controls is $25 million or more, and
  • the company and any entities it controls have 100 or more employees at the end of the financial year.

If the company does not meet at least two of the above criteria, it is ‘small’, and therefore is not required by law to have a Whistleblower Policy in place (although they may elect to have one regardless).

What must the Policy contain?

Whistleblower Policies must contain information about the legal protections which will be afforded to any whistleblowers and outline how the company will investigate disclosures and protect the whistleblower from detriment.

The Chamber has prepared a sample Whistleblower Policy which is available to our Workplace Relations members free of charge and to non-WR members for a small fee of $100+GST.  It’s an easy, effective way to ensure you comply with this new law.

We also have a collection of other policies and procedures available, including Code of Conduct, Disciplinary Policy, Leave Policy and Social Media Policy, amongst many others.

Contact our WR team today at wradvice@canberrabusiness.com or 1300 277 881

Not a Workplace Relations member yet? Contact the Chamber to discuss your options on 02 6247 4199. More about membership here.

Factsheet for Canberra region businesses affected by fire or smoke

The Chamber sends its deepest condolences to all who have been affected by the bushfire crisis that is currently ravaging Canberra & regional Australia.

If your business is in an impacted area, the Chamber is able to offer its members desk space to work from, free of charge. Give us a call on 02 6247 4199 to arrange. If any members are able to offer support for fellow members, please let us know and we will facilitate.

During this difficult time, we have compiled a factsheet of answers to a list of questions you may be asking in relation to your business.

Download the factsheet

Additional ANZAC Day Public Holiday 2020

Wall of Remembrance at Australian War Memorial

The ACT Government has announced that the Monday following Anzac day, i.e., Monday 27 April 2020, will be observed as an additional public holiday in the ACT.

By declaring this additional public holiday the ACT will be in line with Western Australia who also observe the Monday public holiday.

More

National Employment Standards Update – Family and Domestic Violence Leave

The National Employment Standards (NES) have now been updated to include Family and Domestic Violence Leave.  As you may know, this entitlement was inserted into modern awards last year.  This entitlement has now been extended to all employees.

What is the scope of the entitlement?

Family and Domestic Violence means behaviour that is violent, threatening or abusive in nature which seeks to coerce, control or cause harm and fear.  It is at the hands of a close relative of the employee, which includes spouses, partners, children, parents, grandparents, grandchildren, siblings.  It also extends to an employee’s current or former spouse or partner’s children, parents, grandparents, grandchildren, siblings or a person related to the employee according to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander kinship rules.

What is the entitlement?

  1. five days unpaid leave to apply to all employees (including casuals);
  2. will be available in full at the commencement of each 12 month period rather than accruing progressively during a period of service;
  3. will not accumulate from year to year;
  4. will be available in full to part-time and casual employees (i.e. not pro-rated); and
  5. employees will not be required to have accessed any other available leave (such as annual leave or personal leave) as a pre-condition to accessing the new entitlement.

The clause also requires employees to give notice of the leave as soon as practicable and advise the employer of the period/expected period of leave. If requested by the employer, the employee may be required to give evidence that would satisfy a reasonable person that the leave is taken for its specified purpose.

Fair Work Information Statement

Given the changes, it is a good opportunity to remind all employers that they are required to provide the Fair Work Information Statement to all new employees.  The most recent Statement may be found here and includes the new minimum wage rates for employees not covered by an award, effective from 1 July 2019.

Contact our Workplace Relations team if you have any questions.

Fair Work Commission Hands Down Annual Wage Review Decision

On 30 May 2019, the Fair Work Commission handed down their 2019 annual wage review decision.

While your Chamber, through the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, argued for a 1.8% increase, which would have seen award wages keep pace with inflation, the Commission did not agree.

It was announced that there would be a 3% increase to the minimum wage which will come into effect on 1 July 2019. This wage increase will bring the national minimum wage up to $740.00 per week and $19.49 per hour.

This decision will increase the wages of around 2.2 million employees on award wages. It is not just the less than 2% of employees who are on the minimum wage who will receive a wage rise. It will cost Australian employers an additional $3.1 billion per year.

This wage increase will affect all Modern awards, and we will be sending out updated wage sheets and the applicable Awards to our members.

To ensure that you receive the most accurate information, please email us the name of the Award/s that apply to your business to wradvice@canberrabusiness.com.