Happy Easter everyone!

If you would like a peaceful Easter read, we hope you enjoy this edition and our new COVID-19 quick practice self-assessment checklist and playbook. This will answer many questions from Telehealth, staff redundancy, government grants, pathology rents and more.

As the impact of the coronavirus on our daily lives and livelihoods rapidly evolves, below are the latest measures released by the Government to reduce both the impact to the nations health, economy, household and business finances.

At times like these, it’s important to have someone to talk to, so we urge you to contact us if you have concerns about your finances.

Free Health and Life National COVID-19 GP Practice Checklist, Playbook and Webinar Series as reported in the medical national media on the 9th April 2020 in The Medical Republic article titled “Six Vital Steps to take if your practice is in COVID-19 distress”.

Breaking news pathology collection centre rents to fall by 50% after PM announcement. Whatever you do, do not sign or agree to anything. You do not have to accept a significant fall in rent. See the above playbook for answers and then contact us if you are still not sure.

Kicking COVID-19 General Practice Continuity Checklist Guide
We have a free COVID-19 plan for your practice
How are you and the team doing?

We understand that practices are busy responding to COVID-19. We hope this guide may help you work more efficiently and effectively.

We aim to make this easier for you and make sure General Practices stay open to free up the local emergency department.

This will take another six months and has permanently changed how general practice will operate in the future.

Since February, we have been extremely busy helping GP practices in the East Coast starting in Epping with a COVID-19 Response.

At the time, this has stretched our resources. The upside is we have now produced a free peer-reviewed self-assessment checklist and a practical troubleshooting guide for your Practice.

This initiative was featured in the national Medical Republic below.

The key is to calm any concern with a plan on how the Practice can deal with immediate PPE issues, to short and long term viability and part transitioning to telehealth to ensure patient continuity.

Based on our 28 years of national experience and your input over the years, we have addressed the problem. This practical guide is for owners, staff and patients to reduce any immediate concerns.

The checklist is being updated daily due to rule changes. You can access and bookmark a live link to your browser.

Check your finances now

Breaking news: Path Labs Rent Reduction

Pathology labs are requesting a 50% rent reduction. If you have one, do not agree to anything without talking to us first. You do not have to accept it. Please check our new guide below on what to do next.

Many practices are concerned with their future viability and what to do next. Especially those practices that have experienced a 20% to 30% drop in revenue. This can be fixed.

If you have not already, the first thing is to check your finances and give me a quick no charge call on 0407 620 120. Check-in if there is a concern or opportunity.

We are doing fine – we can help you in many ways if you need it

Three weeks ago, our staff transitioned to working from home remotely and seamlessly. Practices should not experience any disruption to services.

You can DIY, or we can provide Practice Assistance at your request.We will provide a high priority complimentary orientation session if you have any questions for the first 50 practices that contact us.

The key to overcoming this crisis is to have a trusted evidence-based clinical and non-clinical structured step by step personal and practice plan without reinventing the wheel and not being overwhelmed. 

This will be the new normal for general practice – a bigger move to the cloud starting with Telehealth services.

Where to start?

Please click on the invitation registration link below to get the Practice started. A separate invitation to the national webinar will be sent.

Click here to register for access to the checklist and the guide.

This is the fastest way for you to access and share with your colleagues.

Please check your Wrike Collaboration if we are working on any active matters for you.

This will reduce the number of emails and any confusion.

We welcome your feedback on our Facebook feedback page. Thank you for any ideas. We are receiving a lot of national media interest, so keep an eye out for updates and follow our social media feeds.

Please review our checklists over the break.

Stay safe.

David Dahm – CEO and Founder of Health and Life

The JobKeeper program – Help for businesses
The Australian Government has announced unprecedented assistance to help businesses of all sizes manage their cashflow and retain their employees.

The six-month JobKeeper Payment of $1,500 a fortnight per employee is made through the tax system and is available to small, medium and large businesses, and not-for-profits. Legally employers must pass on the payment to employees who are earning less than $1500 per fortnight.

To be eligible, a small or medium-sized business with an annual turnover of less than $1 billion must have lost at least 30 per cent of its revenue since 1 March, over a minimum of a month-long period. For large businesses, the drop in revenue must be at least 50 per cent

It’s important to note you won’t receive the first JobKeeper Payment until the first week of May, but it will be backdated to 30 March 2020. Subsequent payments will be made to you monthly in arrears by the ATO.

It’s also worth noting that it will be up to the employer if they want to pay super on any additional wage paid because of the JobKeeper Payment.

Call us today if you need help managing your business cashflow or applying for government financial assistance during the current crisis.

Information in this article has been sourced from the Treasury website: https://treasury.gov.au/coronavirus/jobkeeper

JobSeeker or JobKeeper?

In a rapidly evolving response to the spread of COVID-19, the Federal Government announced in March a new suite of welfare packages to help Australians who’ve found themselves out of work. Among them are the JobSeeker and JobKeeper payments. Here’s a rundown of how they work:

JobSeeker

This initiative was devised in mid-March, prior to the JobKeeper changes, to support those who find themselves out of work and seeking a job. The payment is available to out of work employees including sole traders, self-employed, casual workers and contract workers who meet the income test as a result of the economic downturn due to the Coronavirus. The asset test and the one week waiting period has been waived.

The full JobSeeker payment is about $1100 per fortnight, including a six-month $550 fortnightly coronavirus supplement payable from April 27, but it does depend in your income and your partner’s income. The partner income threshold has been increased from $48,100 to $79,762 per annum to qualify.

If you qualify for JobSeeker benefits, you may also receive rental assistance, an energy supplement, pharmaceutical allowance and family tax benefits. All amounts are before potential tax.

JobKeeper

This is an initiative to assist employers retain employees if still operating or to stay connected to employees if their business has closed

The JobKeeper payment will be $1,500 per fortnight per eligible employee.

While the government believes around six million eligible Australians will end up receiving the payment, it will be restricted to staff who were working for an eligible business on March 1 and are at least 16 years old. Casual workers will need to have been working for the company for at least one year to receive the payment. Eligible sole traders can apply for this payment.

You’ll need to wait for your employer to apply for the payment through the ATO in order to be able to receive it. Payments will be made in the first week of May 2020, but will be backdated to 30 March 2020. To qualify, businesses with turnover of less than $1 billion need to have lost at least 30% of their revenue, and businesses with turnover of $1 billion or more need to have lost at least 50% of their revenue. In both cases, the business must keep the worker employed, and the payment must be passed onto the employee if they earn less than $1500 per fortnight.

Contact us if you would like assistance in determining your eligibility for either of these initiatives or if you have any other questions we can assist with.

Support for business investment

The government is loosening the criteria around the instant asset write-off. Pre-Coronavirus, businesses with a turnover of up to $50 million could instantly write-off the purchase of assets costing up to $30,000. Post-Coronavirus, businesses with a turnover of up to $500 million can write off asset purchases of up to $150,000.

Accelerated depreciation deductions to benefit businesses

The Government has accelerated depreciation deductions for the next 15 months. Up until June 30, 2021, businesses turning over less than $500 million will be able to deduct 50 per cent of the cost of any eligible asset the moment it’s installed. It’s predicted these two tweaks to the investment rules could benefit up to 3.5 million businesses that collectively employ almost 10 million Australians.

Temporary access to super
As part of the measures taken by the government to support those impacted by COVID-19 some people will be able to access up to $10,000 of their super between now and 1 July 2020, with a further $10,000 in the first three months of the 2020-21 financial year, tax free.

Those who are eligible include the unemployed, people receiving JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance Jobseeker, Parenting Payment, Farm Household Allowance and Special Benefit. People who’ve been made redundant, had their work hours reduced by 20% or more or sole traders whose turnover has reduced by 20% or more since 1 January this year are also eligble.

Applications can be made online from mid-April by using myGov. Members will self-certify that they satisfy the eligibility criteria.

While this provides an additional safety net for individuals and families who face the loss of a job or a significant fall in income, we do urge our clients to consider accessing their super as a last resort.

Taking a chunk out of your retirement savings now, after a big market fall, would not only crystallise your recent losses but it also means you would have less money working for you when markets recover.

So before you do anything, speak to us and we can help you review other income support measures that may be applicable to your situation.

Boost to mental health services, domestic violence support and Medicare assistance
The Government released further funding on March 29 to support the secondary effects of the health and economic impact of the coronavirus. This package is designed to provide care and help to the many who are facing hardship as a result of this crisis.
Medicare support at home

The $669 expansion of Medicare-subsidised telehealth services will give individuals access to support in their homes using their phone and video conferencing features to connect with GP services, mental health treatment, chronic disease management, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health assessments, services to people with eating disorders, pregnancy support counselling, services to patients in aged care facilities, children with autism, after-hours consultations and nurse practitioners.

Domestic violence support

An initial $150 million will be provided to support Australians experiencing domestic, family and sexual violence due to the fallout from coronavirus. The funding will boost programs under the National Plan to reduce Violence against Women and their Children.

Mental health support

An initial $74 million package has been released to support mental health and wellbeing. The Government’s Head to Health portal will provide information and guidance on how to maintain good mental health throughout the crisis and in self-isolation as well as how to care for others and access to further services and care.

The funds will be distributed to a number of causes to bolster their capacity and support including; Beyond Blue, Lifeline and Kids Helpline, the Community Visitors Scheme and Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia for indigenous communities.

Relief services for vulnerable Australians

An additional $200 million will be provided to support charities and other community organisations which provide emergency and feed relief as demand surges as a result of the coronavirus.

Award flexibility during coronavirus – Proposed new pandemic leave
Workers may soon have access to unpaid pandemic leave and extended annual leave at reduced rates to help keep them in their jobs through the coronavirus crisis.

On 1 April 2020, the Fair Work Commission (the Commission) issued a Statement outlining its intention to update 103 awards during the coronavirus pandemic. The proposed updates would provide:

1. An entitlement to unpaid pandemic leave

Any employee may elect to take up to 2 weeks’ unpaid leave if the employee is required, by government or medical authorities or acting on medical advice, to self-isolate or is otherwise prevented from working by measures taken by government or medical authorities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in circumstances where the employee is required to work at premises operated by an employer.

2. Flexibility to take annual leave at half pay.

An employee may be entitled to take twice as much leave on half page if agreed with their employer, instead of full pay. This will provide employees and employers more flexibility during throughout the crisis.

The proposed variations would operate until 30 June 2020. The awards this change will impact include;

Temporary relief for financially distressed businesses
The coronavirus is first and foremost a health crisis, but as measures are being taken to reduce the spread of the virus throughout the community, many profitable businesses may temporarily suffer financial hardships.

The Government announced the following initiatives to assist these businesses to make it through the crisis and resume normal business.

Temporary higher thresholds and more time to respond to creditors demands

The minimum threshold for creditors issuing statutory demand on a company under the Corporations Act 2001 has been temporarily increased from $2,000 to $20,000.

The timeframe for a company to respond to a demand has been increased from 21 days to six months, which will apply for six months.

The threshold for the minimum amount of debt required for a creditor to initiate bankruptcy proceedings has also been temporarily increased from $5,000 to $20,000 for six months. As failure to respond to a bankruptcy notice is the most common act of bankruptcy, the debtor now has six months instead of 21 days to respond, allowing them more time to consider repayment plans.

The period in which unsecured creditors cannot take further actions to recover debts, when a debtor enters voluntary bankruptcy, has been extended from 21 days to 6 months.

Temporary relief for directors from any personal liability for trading while insolvent

These are challenging times for many businesses. The ATO recognises this and will provide tailored solutions for business owners and directors who are struggling due to the coronavirus. This may include temporary reduction of payments, deferring payments or withholding enforcement actions.

We can assist you in working with the ATO if your business has fallen into financial hardship.

Commercial tenancies rent relief package
On April 7, the Government announced new commercial rental waivers and deferrals for tenants that have been severely impacted by the coronavirus crisis.

The draft Code of Conduct is to impose a set of ‘good faith leasing principles’ and intended for landlords and tenants to share a proportionate financial risk and cashflow impact during this period of crisis. The code will apply to any small-medium sized tenancies where the tenant is eligible for the JobKeeper program and where they have a turnover of $50 million or less.

Under this relief package, landlords must not terminate a lease due to non-payment during the COVID-19 period and tenants must remain committed to the terms of their lease agreement.

Landlords must offer tenants proportionate reductions in rent payable as either waivers or deferrals of up to 100%, which is based on the reduction in the tenant’s trade throughout this crisis period and recovery.

Waivers will have to account for at least 50 per cent of rent payable, or greater in cases where it would compromise a tenant’s capacity to fulfil their ongoing obligations. Consideration must also be given to the Landlord’s ability to provide the additional waiver. Tenants may also waive the requirement for a 50% minimum waiver by agreement.

Rental payments will need to be made, but can be deferred to a later date, with payment amortised over the remaining term of the lease and for no less than 24 months, whichever is greater.

While the package is encouraging landlords and tenants to work together, where agreement on leasing cannot be reached, the matter can be referred on to applicable state retail/ commercial leasing dispute resolution processes.

We encourage you to speak to your landlord, tenant or the bank, and if you need assistance in regards to your financial situation, please don’t hesitate to give us a call.

JobKeeper Payment now officially passed by the Government
On April 8th, the JobKeeper package was passed by both sides of Parliament and legislated. This update offers further guidance on the scheme.
Workers with multiple jobs

If you are employed by multiple businesses, you are only eligible to receive the payment from your nominated primary employer.

Timing

The JobKeeper will be available from March 30 and will last until September 27 2020, employers can expect to receive payments from the first week of May. Payments will be made monthly by the ATO in arrears.

Businesses Eligibility

Businesses can apply for the payment if your turnover will fall by 30% or more (or by at least 50% for businesses with a turnover of greater than $1 billion or more), relative to turnover of a corresponding period of the previous year.

For businesses who reasonably expect their turnover to fall in the coming month by either 30% or at least 50% for those with a turnover of more than $1 billion relative to that of a previous year, the ATO will provide guidance about self-assessment of actual and anticipated falls in turnover.

If you do not initially meet the turnover test at the start of the scheme on March 30, the business can receive the payment once the turnover test has been met.

For new businesses or businesses with a ‘lumpy’ income, the Tax Commissioner has discretion to set out alternative tests that will establish eligibility in specific circumstances. There will also be some tolerance for employers, who in good faith estimate a 30% or 50% all in turnover but actually experience a slightly smaller fall.

JobKeeper Payment clarification.

To be able to claim the JobKeeper payment for an eligible employee, that employee must be paid a minimum of $1,500 income per fortnight, before tax is withheld. This includes:

    • Employees who have been stood down without pay after March 1 2020, will receive the full $1,500 before tax, per fortnight.
    • Employees who usually earn less than $1,500 a fortnight before tax, are to be ‘topped up to $1,500 per fortnight.
    • Employees whose hours have been reduced and now earn less than $1,500 per fortnight, are to be topped up to $1,500 per fortnight.
    • Employees who were let go after March 1 who have been re-hired will be eligible.

For employees who earn over $1,500 per fortnight, the businesses payments and obligations will not change. The $1,500 fortnightly subsidy received will be to support their continued employment.

Self employed and other eligible businesses
    • Self-employed taxpayers will be eligible provided they meet certain criteria at the time of applying. 
    • Director Fees – Only one person in a director capacity may receive the payment and that individual may not receive the payment as an employee.
    • Trusts – Trust can receive JobKeeper payments for any eligible employees. where beneficiaries only receive distributions, rather than being paid a wage for work done, only one individual beneficiary can be nominated to receive the JobKeeper Payment.
    • Partnership – only one partner can be nominated to receive a JobKeeper Payment along with any eligible employees.
    • Company – where an eligible business pays shareholders in the form of dividends, in lieu of a wage, only one shareholder will be eligible to nominate for the JobKeeper Payment
Registering interest

Eligible employers will need to need to register for the scheme in order to receive payments administered by the ATO.

If you have not already registered, please go to https://www.ato.gov.au/Job-keeper-payment/. Once you have registered you will receive information and updates from the ATO about how and when to claim the JobKeeper payments.

For more insights visit our blog.

About me: David Dahm BA (Acc.), CA., FCPA, CTA, FFin, CPM, FAAPM, FAIM, FGLF.

Chartered Accountant, Chartered Tax Adviser, Registered Tax Agent, Former AGPAL Surveyor 10 years of service

David Dahm is CEO and founder of the national medical and healthcare chartered accounting firm Health and Life and global Founder and CEO of the not for profit project the International Healthcare Standards and Ethics Board (www.ihseb.org)

After a serious work related car accident in 1989, and nine operations later I continue to be a patient and provider advocate. I enter my third decade as a national Chartered Accountant for Medical and Healthcare practices in Australia. I am a former 10-year Australian General Practice Accreditation surveyor. I come from a medico family. I have served on the AAPM national Board and was the inaugural national Chair of the Certified Practice Manager CPM post nominal. I continue to provide accounting tax and practice management advice to many practices all over Australia.

You know who you are and I thank you for this real honour and privilege to serve you and your community through you. Note, I am not a lawyer please seek appropriate legal and accounting advice. This information is for general information and discussion only.

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