The month-long extension of the Sydney lockdown will deepen the financial and social impacts being felt by businesses, employees and the broader community – including many outside the state.
This is the warning from the NSW head of the national employer association, the Australian Industry (Ai) Group, Helen Waldron.
“The impact of the situation in NSW is being felt well beyond our borders and close consideration needs to be given to extending support to businesses and employees in other states that are adversely affected by the NSW lockdowns,” Waldron said.
“Many smaller retail businesses are finding it difficult to pay their rent and further relief may be warranted.”
Call to reinstate temporary industrial relations flexibilities
She noted that the lockdown extension announced by the state Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, reinforced calls for the Federal Government to reinstate the temporary industrial relations flexibilities that were associated with JobKeeper. This flexibility was necessary to help employers and employees survive this and future lockdowns.
“The IR flexibilities include measures to reduce hours, partially stand down workers, perform different duties, work from home or other locations, and take annual leave. The reinstatement of these measures was jointly supported recently by Ai Group and a range of employer associations,” Waldron said.
But the Ai Group has welcomed the measures allowing for the reopening of the construction sector, calling them “logical and welcome, given the industry’s Covid-safe record and high standards in dealing with the virus in the workplace”.
“The construction sector is a big employer with extensive links into many other parts of the economy and its reopening in NSW is a major step forward,” Waldron stated.
Next month will be harder still for workers and businesses
“However, many businesses and employees have been hit hard by restrictions to date and the next month will be harder still in many cases.”
She added: “The State and Federal financial support offered so far has helped many businesses survive the restrictions, maintain operations and keep employees on their books.
“The changes announced today to increase the level of support and to extend JobSaver to larger businesses who experience a significant fall in turnover is a clear improvement and will make JobSaver more effective and help many more of these businesses maintain their workforces.
“We also welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement that the Federal Government will increase and extend the support available to individuals through the Covid-19 Disaster Payment in light of the growing severity of the NSW situation.”