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Member News


  • 18-Sep-2023 17:25 | Cassidy Lau (Administrator)

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  • 18-Sep-2023 16:57 | Cassidy Lau (Administrator)

    Commencement

    Important changes relating to paid family and domestic violence leave took effect on 1 August 2023 for small business employers, and for all other employers on 1 February 2023.

    A small business employer is one that employs less than 15 employees (including most casuals) both within its own enterprise and the enterprise of any ‘associated entities’.

    What are the changes?

    The changes mean that all employees (including casuals) are entitled to 10 days’ of paid family and domestic violence leave each year.

    Unlike annual leave, however, family and domestic violence leave does not accumulate from year to year, and any unused family and domestic violence leave is not paid out on cessation of employment.

    What is family and domestic violence?

    In essence, “family and domestic violence” means any violent, threatening or other abusive behaviour that seeks to coerce or control the employee and causes them harm or fear.

    It covers any such behaviour towards an employee by a family member, as well as close relatives, current or former intimate partners, or a member of the employee’s household.

    Are there any other requirements?

    Strict record keeping, eligibility and evidentiary requirements apply when taking such leave including:

    • the employee must demonstrate they need to do something to deal with family and domestic violence which is impractical to do outside their hours of work (including attending medical or legal appointments)
    • an employer can request proof from an employee about the necessity for the family and domestic violence leave
    • the requirement to record the leave as ordinary hours of work on the employee’s payslip while maintaining appropriate internal records regarding leave balances and taken leave

    Confidentiality

    Employers MUST take reasonable steps to keep confidential any sensitive information received from an employee relating to family and domestic violence leave.

    In addition, employers MUST only use such information to satisfy themselves that the employee is entitled to family and domestic violence leave, except where required by law, where the employee consents, or where it is necessary to protect the life, health or safety of the employee or another person.

    Penalties

    Employers and individuals may be subject to penalties for non-compliance with the new changes.

    Recommended Actions

    In light of these changes, we recommend that employers:

    • update employment agreements and company policies to cater for this new form of leave
    • train management staff in how to deal with leave requests (noting the sensitive nature of such requests)
    • ensure their leave procedures and payroll records meet the record keeping and evidentiary requirements
    • review record-keeping procedures so as to ensure that all sensitive information relating to leave requests is obtained, stored, accessed and used securely and confidentially

    Questions/Assistance

    If you have any questions in respect of the above or would like any other employment related assistance, please contact a member of our Matthews Folbigg Workplace Solutions team


    DISCLAIMER: This article is provided to readers for their general information and on a complimentary basis. It contains a brief summary only and should not be relied upon or used as a definitive or complete statement of the relevant law.

    Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation


  • 18-Sep-2023 16:53 | Cassidy Lau (Administrator)

    The recent Protecting Worker Entitlements reforms introduce several changes affecting superannuation, protections for migrant workers, access to unpaid parental leave, and the circumstances in which an employee can authorise their employer to make permitted deductions from their remuneration.

    Superannuation Contributions

    Principal to the new reforms is the introduction of a right to superannuation contributions within the National Employment Standards (NES), effective from 1 January 2024.

    Although employers were previously obliged to pay contributions under superannuation legislation, the incorporation of superannuation obligations into the NES means that:

    • unpaid superannuation contributions can be recovered by a greater number of employees, the Fair Work Ombudsman or employee organisations such as unions (and employees will no longer need to rely solely on the ATO)
    • employers who fail to make superannuation contributions to employees may now also be liable for compensation and/or financial penalties under the Fair Work Act for non-compliance with their superannuation obligations

    The planned changes requiring employers to pay superannuation at the same time as remuneration from 1 July 2026 complement these changes and increase the importance of compliance.

    The ATO though will continue to be primarily responsible for ensuring compliance with superannuation guarantee laws, and employees will not be able to rely on their NES right to pursue the same unpaid superannuation contributions if the ATO has already begun doing so.

    Unpaid Parental Leave

    Under the Fair Work Act, all employees (including certain casuals) are entitled to 12 months (or 24 months, if agreed to by their employer) of unpaid parental leave.

    However, the new reforms also provide that from 1 July 2023 relevant employees are entitled to:

    • take up to 12 months of unpaid parental leave at any time within 24 months of their child’s birth or adoption
    • take up to 100 days of their unpaid parental leave flexibly
    • if pregnant, access their flexible unpaid parental leave up to 6 weeks prior to the expected birth date of their child
    • take unpaid parental leave at the same time as their partner (previously this was limited to 8 weeks of concurrent leave)

    Employee Deductions

    Currently, the Fair Work Act severely limits the ability of an employer to make deductions from an employee’s remuneration.

    From 30 December 2023, an employee will be able to authorise their employer to make beneficial deductions from their remuneration which are recurring and vary from time to time. A common example of this would be union membership fees which are subject to change from time to time.

    Migrant Workers

    From 1 July 2023 all migrant workers have the same rights and entitlements as other employees under workplace laws and regardless of any breach of the Migration Act.

    The reforms make clear that a migrant worker’s migration status, their right to be or work in Australia, or breach of a condition of their visa will not affect their continuing entitlement to rights and protections under Australian workplace laws.

    The reforms also make clear that an independent contractor’s migration status or breach of a condition of their visa will not affect the validity or enforceability of any contract of services they are a party to.

    Action Items

    We recommend employers adopt a proactive approach to address the reforms now including by:

    • reviewing and updating policies and procedures, employment agreements and other documents relating to parental leave (both paid and unpaid) and authorised deductions from remuneration
    • ensuring that all employees (particularly managers and other key decision-makers) are aware that migrant workers enjoy the same rights and entitlements under Australian workplace laws regardless of any non-compliance with migration laws
    • ensuring superannuation contributions are accurate and paid on time

    More Information

    If you have any questions in respect of the above or would like any other employment related assistance, please contact a member of our Matthews Folbigg Workplace Solutions team


    DISCLAIMER: This article is provided to readers for their general information and on a complimentary basis. It contains a brief summary only and should not be relied upon or used as a definitive or complete statement of the relevant law.

    Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation


  • 18-Sep-2023 15:13 | Cassidy Lau (Administrator)

    It is common for associates and shareholders of companies in Australia to withdraw company funds through a loan account. There are lots of tax reasons why this is a popular way to access profits from a corporate vehicle. Of course, the ATO knows this, and so if the loan is not properly documented and does not satisfy the criteria to be a Division 7A loan, the amount will be deemed to have been paid out as a dividend, and taxed in the hands of the shareholder, usually unfranked.

    But there is another danger from Division 7A loans which shareholders need to consider, and which arises when a company is placed into external administration. When a company goes into liquidation, the liquidator has the responsibility to recover the assets of the company, including all outstanding loans. What started as a sensible tax planning strategy can sometimes end up as an asset protection nightmare.

    What is a Division 7A loan?

    Division 7A of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 (Cth) (“the Act”) sets out the parameters for private companies providing loans to their shareholders or entities. Division 7A aims to prevent profits or assets being provided to shareholders or their associates tax free. Division 7A does not just cover monetary repayments but any loan, provision of credit or advancement of money.

    The elements of Division 7A

    Division 7A defines associates of shareholders broadly, which includes relatives, partners, trustees and any other related companies.

    Therefore, Division 7A will apply if:

    1. The loan is made between the company and the shareholder or associate
    2. If the loan has not fully been repaid within the given financial year the loan was made
    3. If any part of the debt was forgiven

    What are the conditions of a Division 7A loan?

    Under Division 7A of the Act the loan must comply with the strict requirements in order for the loan to be qualifying. The following conditions include:

    • A written loan agreement must be in place which identifies the parties to the loan, sets out essential terms and which is signed and dated by the parties
    • The loan interest rate must be equal to the benchmark interest rate
    • The terms of the loan must not exceed
      • 25 years if the loan is secured by a registered mortgage over real property
      • 7 years for any other loans
    • Minimum yearly repayments and ensure repayments of the loan is made annually

    If the conditions are not satisfied, the Australian Taxation Office can determine that the loan is a deemed assessable dividend of the shareholder creating a tax liability for the shareholder or associate.

    What happens to a Division 7A loan during liquidation?

    In the liquidation process, and subject to the terms of the loan, a Division 7A loan can be called up by a liquidator. When a company is placed in liquidation, Division 7A loans are considered as an asset on the balance sheet. If the loan remains unpaid, the liquidator may take legal proceedings against the shareholder which could lead to bankruptcy or winding up.

    Directors and associates should carefully consider the implications of a Division 7A loan in the face of any possible external administration. There may be steps which are possible to either repay the loan over time or to negotiate terms with the liquidator. Shareholders should also be conscious that loans may be scrutinised and examined by the liquidator as possible voidable transactions, for instance as unreasonable director-related transactions in accordance with section 588FDA of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).

    If you would like more information or advice in relation to insolvency, restructuring or debt recovery law, contact a Principal of the Matthews Folbigg Insolvency, Restructuring & Debt Recovery Group:

    Jeffrey Brown on (02) 9806 7446 or jeffreyb@matthewsfolbigg.com.au

    Stephen Mullette on (02) 9806 7459 or stephenm@matthewsfolbigg.com.au

    DISCLAIMER: This article is provided to readers for their general information and on a complimentary basis. It contains a brief summary only and should not be relied upon or used as a definitive or complete statement of the relevant law.

    Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation

  • 18-Sep-2023 14:54 | Cassidy Lau (Administrator)

    Enjoy all that Sydney Zoo has to offer with an exclusive event for your staff and their families! Book a family day by December 30th 2023 and receive a complimentary EXCLUSIVE reptile encounter for guests to enjoy! With a day filled with animal interactions, Ferris wheel rides and delicious food, thank your team with an unforgettable event at Sydney Zoo!

    BONUS GIFT: Book your event in the month of October 2023 and receive a 10% discount as well as complimentary venue hire!


    LIMITED DATES AVAILABLE! 

    Contact the Sydney Zoo Events Team for more information.



  • 14-Aug-2023 12:16 | Cassidy Lau (Administrator)

    I am delighted to share news of the appointment of our new General Manager, Rachel Collier, with you as our valued member of the Western Sydney Business Connection.

    Rachel's arrival marks a pivotal moment for The Connection. With a proven track record of exceptional leadership, Rachel comes to us from the Health Services Union, where she managed and grew a vast membership base of 76,000 and led a dynamic team of 15 individuals.

    Her extensive experience managing membership-based organisations spans over a decade, including a prominent role in a peak industry body.

    What truly sets Rachel apart is her deep understanding of business challenges in our great Western Sydney region. As a resident of Western Sydney herself, she intimately comprehends the unique opportunities and hurdles that await us in this evolving landscape. Moreover, Rachel's entrepreneurial spirit shines through her prior successful management of her own SME business in the pavers, building blocks and landscaping industry.

    The Board of The Connection, recognising our organisation's crucial role in the Greater Sydney business landscape, was resolute in finding the perfect fit for the General Manager position, Rachel's exceptional qualifications and unwavering dedication to fostering growth and prosperity in the community make her the ideal candidate to steer us into a thriving future.

    The Board and I thank all our members for your patience while searching for the right leader. Your unwavering support has been a driving force behind our success, and we are confident that, under Rachel's guidance, we will reach even greater heights.

    Rachel will officially commence her role with The Connection on 14th August 2023. I believe that you will find her vision and enthusiasm contagious. Please make yourself known to Rachel at our next event or reach out to her before that.

    Below are Rachel's contact details so that you can easily connect with her:

    Rachel Collier | General Manager
    E: rcollier@wsbc.org.au
    M: 0424 718 441

    The Western Sydney Business Connection is committed to empowering businesses like yours, and with Rachel at the helm, we are confident that we will soar to new horizons.

    As we embark on this exciting evolution of The Connection, thank you for being an integral part of our business community.

    We look forward to introducing you to Rachel and embarking on a prosperous future hand in hand.

    Best Regards,

    Brendon Noney


    Brendon Noney
    | President
    Western Sydney Business Connection

  • 26-Jul-2023 14:30 | Cassidy Lau (Administrator)

    The Department of Finance’s Selling to Government website provides information to support businesses understand how to participate in Australian Government procurement and contracting opportunities, including:

    • Where to find opportunities to sell to the Australian Government
    • What rules and processes Australian Government organisations follow when procuring goods and services
    • How to respond to an approach to market
    • What to expect if you are awarded a contract.

    The Future Made in Australia Office, within the Department of Finance, is continuously updating the website to improve information for suppliers.

    If you are interested in supplying to the Australian Government, visit sellingtogov.finance.gov.au to find out more.


  • 26-Jul-2023 14:14 | Cassidy Lau (Administrator)

    Remember how fun it was wearing your jeans to school and raising money for a great local cause? This year Jeans for Genes is celebrating 30 years of fundraising for Children’s Medical Research Institute in Westmead and we want you to help us celebrate!

    This Jeans for Genes Day on Friday 4th August, everyday people can help the scientists at CMRI to change the future of the 1 in 20 Australian kids living with a genetic disease or birth defect.

    For 65 years, the scientists at CMRI have been doing cutting edge work and today they are finding treatments and cures for diseases including epilepsy, cystic fibrosis, cancer, devastating metabolic conditions, genetic blindness, and many more of the 6000 genetic diseases that impact kids.

    We can’t find the cures without medical research, and we can’t do the research without your support.

    Mum Bianca has visited the Westmead labs and was blown away by how much work is being done into conditions like cystic fibrosis which impacts her son Archer.

    “My family growing up has spent so many years fundraising for Children's Medical Research Institute and to go into the labs, to see the researchers working on curing devastating genetic diseases, is just mind blowing.’’

    This year there are so many more ways to fundraise for research. If you’d like to get fit, then why not try Sofa to 6km or the Skipping Challenge? If cooking is more your thing, then hold a Bake it Blue event. Of course, there is always the original favourite of Wear Jeans to your school or workplace.

    We also need volunteers out on the streets of Western Sydney to collect donations and sell our merchandise so if you and your team can spare a couple of hours - we’d love your support!

    To get involved or donate, visit JeansforGenes.org.au or to volunteer on our big day register here at fundraise.jeansforgenes.org.au/volunteer

    Or donate to the Western Sydney Business Connection Fundraiser here


  • 26-Jul-2023 13:41 | Cassidy Lau (Administrator)

    The commencement of a new financial year brings with it important changes and new rates which will apply from 1 July 2023.

    NEW! National Minimum Wage (NMW)

    With the NMW:

    • this is applicable to employees to whom neither a Modern Award or enterprise agreement applies
    • the NMW increases to become $882.80 per week or $23.23 per hour
    • the increase to the NMW will come into operation on 1 July 2023
    • in addition:

    (a)   special NMW rates apply to employees with disabilities, junior employees, apprentices, and those on training arrangements

    (b)   the minimum casual loading remains unchanged at 25%

    NEW! Modern Award Increases

    • minimum wages to most Modern Awards increase by 5.75% (starting on the first full pay period on or after 1 July 2023)
    • absorption of wage increases into over-award payments remains permissible (subject to the terms of the relevant employment agreement and what other amounts are being absorbed into any annualised wage arrangement)
    • increases to the minimum wages of junior workers, apprentices, trainees, piece workers and employees on the supported wage system will occur
    • expense-related allowances in Modern Awards will increase as set out in the Modern Award (eg, by the applicable CPI index figure)
    • annualised salaries will need to be reviewed to ensure they continue to properly absorb/include all relevant minimum Modern Award amounts and that they continue to meet any technical notification and reconciliation requirements applying to annualised wage arrangements in certain Modern Awards

    NEW! Impact on Enterprise Agreements

    With enterprise agreements:

    • they must always meet or exceed the minimum wage of:

    (a)   the relevant Modern Award (ie, the Modern Award that would have applied had the enterprise agreement not been in existence)

    (b)   the NMW (ie, where a Modern Award would not apply even if the enterprise agreement was not in existence)

    • thus, pay rates in enterprise agreements may need to be increased (even if the enterprise agreement has its own wage increase regime)

    NEW! The Sting

    Be mindful that wage increases may have flow-on effects such as increasing:

    • the value of leave loading, penalty rates, overtime and superannuation contributions
    • the value of accrued leave entitlements
    • the cost of wage related expenses such as payroll tax and workers compensation premiums

    NEW! High Income Threshold (HIT)

    With the HIT:

    • it increases to $167,500
    • it impacts:

    (a)   who can make a claim for unfair dismissal (for those not covered by a Modern Award or to whom an enterprise agreement does not apply)

    (b)   the maximum amount of compensation payable in an unfair dismissal claim (which increases to $83,750)

    (c)   those on a 'guarantee of annual earnings' (a Modern Award does not apply to an employee whenever this guarantee is in place provided it continues to meet the relevant legislative requirements)

    NEW! Redundancy

    The tax-free component of a genuine redundancy payment increases to be:

    • a base amount of $11,985
    • an additional amount of $5,994 for each completed year of service

    NEW! Superannuation Contributions Base

    With superannuation:

    • the superannuation guarantee rate increases to 11.0%
    • the maximum superannuation contribution base increases to $62,270 per quarter ($249,080 per annum)
    • an employer is not required to make superannuation contributions on behalf of employees on earnings in excess of that maximum contribution base

    Questions/Assistance

    If you have any questions about the above or would like any other employment related assistance, please contact our Matthews Folbigg Workplace Solutions employment law team.


    Stewart Gough 
    Principal
    T: (02) 9806 7483
    M: 0458 586 444
    stewartg@matthewsfolbigg.com.au


    Peter Doughman
    Senior Associate
    T: (02) 9806 7412
    M: 0404 020 409
    pdoughman@matthewsfolbigg.com.au


    DISCLAIMER: This article is provided to readers for their general information and on a complimentary basis. It contains a brief summary only and should not be relied upon or used as a definitive or complete statement of the relevant law.

    Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation


  • 26-Jul-2023 11:25 | Cassidy Lau (Administrator)

    Are you a leader or manager seeking to sharpen your skills, inspire your team, and drive unparalleled performance?

    If so, we invite you to register for our World Class Teams Microlearning Series. This is a power packed learning opportunity that offers practical, actionable insights for managers and leaders like you. The series is delivered live and interactively via Zoom, which means you can join us from anywhere.

    Here's a sneak peek at some of our upcoming sessions:

    Each micro-learning runs for a total of 60 minutes, and includes:

    • A 45-minute live-streamed workshop where Diana Tapp, Australia’s #1 High Performance Team Consultant, will share the strategies that have helped countless teams reach their full potential.
    • A 15-minute live Q&A, where you can ask Diana any burning questions you may have.
    • A printable Action Pack with tools, techniques, and templates that makes it easy to apply what you've learned.
    • Plus, we offer you 30-day access to a recording of the session so you can revisit the materials whenever you need to.

    Tickets are available for only $87, a very small investment compared to the value you will gain.

    Diana Tapp, CEO of World Class Teams and the author of "Unleash Your Team's Potential", will be your facilitator and guide on this journey. Brodie Collins, Group Head of Strategy at MONDIALE VGL, remarked, "The tools & techniques Di gave us worked! Di is intelligent, experienced, inspiring, influential and so much more."

    We guarantee these sessions will provide you with the tools and strategies to elevate your leadership skills and drive your team's success.

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