As much as businesses can prepare for natural disasters – bushfire, plague and flooding are just the recent examples – the full consequences can’t be known until the smoke dissipates, the sick are cured or the water recedes. Thankfully, our major institutions are there to help when disaster forces businesses to close or reduce operations.
New South Wales
In response to the inundation of areas in NSW, the SES has posted flood evacuation orders and the government has declared natural disaster zones, opening the way for affected businesses to receive financial support.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Sunday 21 March announced the activation of the Disaster Recovery Allowance for 18 NSW local government areas. Employees, primary producers and sole traders who can demonstrate they have experienced a loss of income as a direct result of the storms and floods can apply for 13 weeks of income support payments.
Resilience NSW have a questionnaire to indicate any loans and grants available to you and your business, which may include:
- Concessional interest rate loans for small businesses, primary producers and non-profit organisations
- Freight subsidies for primary producers
- Grants for non-profit organisations.
Queensland has not yet made any formal announcement regarding support for businesses impacted by local flooding. However, the Business Queensland agency offers a range of disaster recovery information and advice for businesses, and recommends affected businesses to call the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland’s Employer Assistance Line on 1300 731 988.
The Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority offers grants and loans to businesses located in defined disaster areas, which do not so far included flooding in March 2021.
ATO support for small business
The ATO has published details of the how they can help small businesses affected by disasters with tax affairs so the workers can focus on their families and community. Small businesses can receive extra time to pay a debt or lodge tax forms, set up a payment plan or remit penalties or interest charged, and re-construct lost or damaged tax records.
CommBank offers emergency assistance such as loan restructuring and waiving of selected fees and charges for their customers affected by natural disasters, like bushfires, floods and storms.
National Australia Bank has a disaster relief package for customers in New South Wales flood-affected areas to give them access to immediate financial support.
Westpac has rolled-out an emergency assistance package for households and businesses in flood-affected areas in New South Wales.
ANZ announced it would provide a financial support package to help customers and businesses that have been affected by floods along the east coast of Australia.
Your responsibilities as employer
The Fair Work Ombudsman has outlined the options available to employers and employees if they’re unable to attend work due to an emergency or natural disaster.
There may also be state-based advice and assistance available. Furthermore, workplace health and safety laws provide for a general duty of care toward employees.
Read more about the ways Aurion supports our customers and community: see our blogs A Gift To Our Community, For Yours on our donation to five organisations that rebuild lives and communities during the past festive season, and the suite of resources we created to help our customers manage payroll during the COVID-19 crisis.