Coronavirus – Time For Panic Or Opportunity?

Coronavirus – Time For Panic Or Opportunity?

Coronavirus – Time For Panic Or Opportunity?

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The headlines over the last few weeks and in particular, over the last few days have looked something like the following:

  • Global Markets Fall for Fifth Consecutive Day
  • Stocks Fall Again as Coronavirus Spreads
  • Coronavirus has Major Impact on the Stock Market
  • Coronavirus Market Sell Off
  • Another Bad Day in the Markets as the Coronavirus Spreads

As you can imagine, this has had many investors selling their shares in a panic and running for the woods.

Never in human history has information been so freely available to us due to social media and the internet. For the most part, this is fantastic. However, with so many opinions and news headlines around, we can sometimes get caught up and begin to believe everything we read.

Now, I am not saying that the Coronavirus is not something we should be worried about at all. Many people have died from this illness and it has been a tragedy for those affected.

What I am saying is that this is not the first time (and likely not the last time) that we will see a major global epidemic impact investment markets.

The below table shows some past epidemics and the change in the US market following the outbreak.

Epidemic Epidemic End 6-Month % Change of S&P 12-Month % Change of S&P
SARS April 2003 14.59% 20.76%
Avian flu June 2006 11.66% 18.36%
Swine flu April 2009 18.72% 35.96%
Ebola March 2014 5.34% 10.44%
Measles/Rubeola June 2019 9.82% N/A
Source: Dow Jones Market Data

As can be seen from the above, following recent outbreaks, the US market has managed to rebound not only quickly, but also quite substantially.

Therefore, it is important not to forget some key fundamentals when it comes to investing.

Firstly remember, we invest for the long term and therefore short-term fluctuations and market events should not worry us.

Secondly, why did you start investing in the first place? Has the outbreak of Coronavirus changed your investment goals? If not, then why panic and sell because of a new media headline? If your investment goals remain the same, then so should your investment plan.

I am not saying to buy now because the market has dropped, the market may continue dropping over the next few days and weeks. We do not know where the bottom of the market is and neither does anyone else.

What I am saying is that it is important to stick to your plan and continue investing rather than selling in a panic because the markets have dropped and media headlines are in a frenzy. 

To summarise, ultimately the market’s reaction to the Coronavirus will come down to the severity of the virus and just because markets have managed to rebound following outbreaks in the past doesn’t mean that will be the case this time. It is however important to keep a clear head when it comes to selling your shares and to not let media headlines and social media panic cloud your judgement.

One final thought, remember what Warren Buffett, arguably the greatest investor of all time, once said:

“Be greedy when others are fearful, and fearful when others are greedy”

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Award Changes – Annualised Wage Agreements

Award Changes – Annualised Wage Agreements

Award Changes – Annualised Wage Agreements

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Modern Awards have now been updated to include the below changes around Annualised Salaries/Wage Agreements. These changes are effective from 1st March, 2020.

An annualised wage agreement may also be defined as where a flat fixed pay rate is applied for all time worked.

There are some critical thought changes here, reflecting the volume of common law cases and the impacts of those decisions on award interpretation.

What is included in the changes?

  • The employer must advise the employee in writing of the salary and keep a record:
    1. Of the salary payable
    2. The award provisions satisfied by the salary (what is actually included for example specific allowances or loadings, by default anything not listed would be an additional payment)
    3. The method of calculation and
    4. The maximum number of overtime hours it is in satisfaction for (the outer limit).
  • If the employee works in excess of the maximum number of overtime hours, the employer is obligated to make a separate make-up payment.
  • Review the salary arrangement every 12 months and amend any shortfalls in 14 days.
  • Keep appropriate records of employee working times including unpaid meal breaks. Such a record should be acknowledged by the employee, either physically or electronically.

What do I need to do now?

  • Make sure you & your employee keep a record of all time worked and that this record is acknowledged by the employee. This could be as simple as a book showing start & finish times then signed by an employee.
  • Review any existing contracts and make appropriate adjustments as soon as practical.

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New Calculation Of Personal/Sick Leave

New Calculation Of Personal/Sick Leave

New Calculation Of Personal/Sick Leave

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The Mondelez Decision

On 21 August 2019, the Full Federal Court of Australia handed down a decision dealing with how paid sick and carer’s leave accumulates and is taken under the National Employment Standards (NES).
The decision said that:

  • full-time and part-time employees each get 10 days of paid sick and carer’s leave for every year of employment
  • paid sick and carer’s leave accumulates in days, not hours.
    This entitlement applies from the employees start date of employment.

The company & government have appealed this decision. However, until this is heard the above isthe law.

What does this affect?

Whilst an award, agreement, contract can set out different entitlements to leave, they can’t be less
than the minimum entitlement in the National Employment Standards (NES).
The NES minimum entitlement is based on the decision above and allows for 10 paid days leave per
employee per year of service.
How is it calculated?

  1. Find out how many Calendar days in the employees year of service
  2. Find out how many Calendar days (or part days) count as service. Unpaid leave does not count as service.
  3. Calculate the amount of leave accumulated
    Multiply the number of days from step 2 x 10 then divide by the number of days in step 1.

What happens if an employee takes a part day of leave?

A part day of leave is calculated as a fraction of the ‘ordinary hours’ of work the employee would
have worked that day.

What if an employee works different hours on different days?

If any employee works different hours on different days this doesn’t affect how their leave is
accrued. This is because leave is accrued in days, based on service with the employer. A day is an employee’s ordinary hours of work in a 24 hour period.

Working different hours on different days, does affect what the employee gets paid when they take
leave.

i.e. employee works 2 weeks on a 4 on 4 off basis of 12 hrs. Then for the following 2 weeks they
work 5 days at 8hrs per day.
If sick, in weeks 3 (working 8 hrs per day) they get paid 8 hrs.
This is really applicable to shift workers who will now get paid according to the hrs on the shift of the day they would have worked, not the standard base rate hrs of 7.6 per day. Employee’s aren’t paid for any overtime hours they are rostered to work.

Is an employee entitled to back pay if an employer only paid them for 7.6 hours of leave on the days they would’ve worked 12 ordinary hours?

Yes.
If the employee would have normally worked 12 ordinary hours on a day they took paid sick and carer’s leave, they should be paid for those 12 hours at their base pay rate.
If they were previously only paid for 7.6 hours but should have been paid for 12, the employee is entitled to back pay for the difference.
They may also be entitled to extra superannuation contributions and interest.

What happens to accumulated paid sick and carer’s leave if an employee changes from part-time to full-time employment with their employer?

Nothing changes.
Full-time and part-time employees each get 10 days of paid sick and carer’s leave for each year of
service.
A part-time employee would have accumulated 10 days of leave for each year of service while part time.
If they become full-time, they accumulate leave at the same rate.

Does the decision impact our advice on annual leave or other types of leave?

No.
The decision doesn’t impact annual leave or other forms of leave under the NES. It only applies to
paid sick and carer’s leave.

What should employers do now?

Employers should review their leave or payroll systems and records to make sure they’re calculating
leave in days, not hours.
As part of this, employers should consider issues such as:

  • In addition to employees’ NES entitlements to paid sick and carer’s leave, do their employees have a greater entitlement under their registered agreement, award or employment contract?
  • Are they required to make any back payments and/or additional superannuation
    contributions and/or interest payments in relation to the leave?

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Mental Health Essentials

Mental Health Essentials

Mental Health Essentials

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Improve mental health in your workplace

Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry workplace Mental Health Essentials program offers free mental health training and consulting to small and medium sized businesses who employ young workers and want to create mentally healthy workplaces.

What you’ll get:

Who is eligible to participate?

You can participate in the Mental Health Essentials program if you employ a significant number of young workers (under 25) and are:

  • a small business (less than 20 employees)
  • a medium-sized business (less than 200 employees)

How do I apply?

Register your interest using Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s online form. One of their consultants will contact you to confirm your eligibility and discuss the next steps.

What does the Mental Health Essentials program involve?

One of their expert consultants will visit your business twice and provide the following services:

First visit

  1. Briefing session for business owner(s) and senior leaders on how to create and maintain a mentally healthy workplace, including:
    • The business case: why mentally healthy workplaces are productive and profitable
    • Your legal obligations: understanding how safety, workplace realtions, discrimination, workers’ compensation and privacy laws apply to mental health
  2. Assisting business owner(s) and senior leaders to complete Worksafe’s WorkWell toolkit and draft a simple, achievable mental health action plan

Second visit

  1. Mental health training for all workers, including:
    • Facts about mental health in Australia
    • Recognising early warning signs
    • Having a supportive conversation
    • Your role in a mentally healthy workplace
    • Tips to manage your own mental health
  2. Mental health training for managers, including:
    • Discussing mental health issues with workers
    • Communicating with doctors
    • Managing team impact
    • Making reasonable adjustments to people’s roles
    • Managing performance
  3. Discussion with business owner(s) and senior leaders on how your mental health action plan is progressing, including recommendations for ongoing action

Who pays for the Mental Health Essentials program?

The Mental Health Essentials program is supported by WorkSafe Victoria through the WorkWell Mental Health Improvement Fund.

It’s free for small and medium-sized businesses, however, they will expect you to demonstrate a genuine commitment to the program by:

  • encouraging your workers and managers to attend training
  • using WorkSafe’s WorkWell Toolkit to draft a mental health action plan and taking meaningful action on your chosen initiatives

Is information about my business confidential?

Yes. Any information that Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry collect about your business to provide the Mental Health Essentials program is confidential and will be handled according to their privacy policy.

WorkSafe Victoria funds the Mental Health Essentials program through the WorkWell program, but will not receive any information that identifies your business.

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Free OHS Essentials Program

Free OHS Essentials Program

Free OHS Essentials Program

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Learn more about your safety obligations and receive tailored advice on managing safety in your workplace with this free assessment service.

The Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Essentials Program is a free safety consultation service, administered by WorkSafe but delivered by Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry qualified consultants.

The consultant will come to your workplace, learn about your business, identify any hazards and provide practical advice on how you might address them – all then documented in an easy-to-understand safety action plan.

The consultant will contact you post receipt of your action plan to discuss this in more detail and then visit your workplace again within 3-6 months of this visit to discuss any changes you have made based on your action plan and to provide further advice and support.

The consultant will then undertake a final visit within 9-12 months of your initial visit to discuss the progress of key actions identified, improvements made and any challenges that have impacted implementation of the action plan.

Safety essentials for small businesses

Who is eligible?

Victorian small businesses with less than 60 employees.

How long will it take?

The initial site visit will take up to 3.5 hours, the follow-up site visit will take up to 2 hours and the final visit will take up to 3 hours.

Apply now

To apply please complete and submit the application form or contact Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry on 03 8662 5333.

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Three Links In Supply Chain Penalised For Safety Breaches

Three Links In Supply Chain Penalised For Safety Breaches

Three Links In Supply Chain Penalised For Safety Breaches

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When it comes to Chain of Responsibility (CoR) compliance, no one in the supply chain is ‘out of sight, out of mind’.

Authorities in NSW demonstrated this when they stopped a B-Double travelling in an unauthorised area in Mulgrave on the outskirts of Sydney.

Not only did it result in multiple knock-on penalties for the driver, but also two other businesses in the supply chain, while another business was put on notice.

“An inspection of the combination established it was carrying dangerous goods consisting of 24.4 tonnes of used lead acid batteries and 1,080 litres of flammable liquid adhesives,” NSW Police reported.

“Issues were identified relevant to the vehicle and load, which were rectified before the vehicle could continue.

“As a result of an investigation with the assistance of the NSW Environment Protection Authority, Police issued penalty notices to a number of parties involved in the transport of the dangerous goods.”

The three parties involved were issued the following penalties:

  • A Victorian transport company was issued a $10,000 penalty for failing to ensure dangerous goods were transported safely.
  • A recycling facility in Wollongong was issued a $4,000 penalty for employing a person for a task without adequate supervision.
  • And the driver, a 58-year-old man from Victoria was issued with the following four penalties:
    1. Driving without a compliant emergency information holder – $260;
    2. Driving dangerous goods inappropriately placarded – $400;
    3. Driving a class 2 heavy vehicle not in accordance with authorisation – $674; and
    4. Not keeping a work diary as required – $674.

NSW Police reported that with the assistance of the NSW Environment Protection Authority, it is also working with a Victorian-based adhesives company to implement changes to its dangerous goods documents and procedures to ensure compliance.

“NSW Police and the NSW Environment Protection Authority will continue to monitor the involved companies and take action where appropriate,” it stated.

Do you have all the information you need to ensure your business is CoR compliant

Article courtesy of Portner Press

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