The top 5 things that you need to know as right now if you own a small business

27-March-2020 Commercial Disputes By Jamal Bakalian

At Streeterlaw we understand that now, more than ever, making wise business choices is crucial for you. We also understand that in the current circumstances the running of your business may not exactly be “business as usual”.

Accordingly, we take this opportunity to provide you with some important and helpful insights into how you can best keep your business afloat during the COVID19 pandemic.

Streeterlaw has a well-equipped, professional and Specialist Accredited Solicitors who are ready and willing to help you during these difficult times.

Here are the top 5 issues that we feel you need to know right now:

1. Standing down or reducing working hours for your employees

  • At Streeterlaw, we understand that now, more than ever, cutting costs is going to be a priority for you, as you move into the unknown future.
  • As a result of this, we wish to draw your immediate attention to Section 524 1(c) of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).
  • This Section of the Act empowers employers to be able to stand employees down in circumstances where the employer cannot reasonably be held responsible as a result of an extenuating situation that has occurred outside of their control – the COVID19 pandemic is one such circumstance.
  • What this means for your business, is that the law protects you if you need to make a commercial decision and ask an employee to be stood down for a period of time without pay.
  • If you are uncomfortable about making such a drastic decision (and we feel for you during this time as decisions such as this are certainly not easy ones), there are other options available to you in dealing with your overheads, and with continuing to pay your staff.
  • One such option is for Streeterlaw to provide you with a Deed of Agreement to reduce working hours.  You can provide this agreement to your employees so that they are able to have some form of arrangement in place with you where your employees either work on reduced hours and make use of their annual leave, or they take a day or two of unpaid leave per week.
  • The benefit of this sort of agreement is that it protects you from any future liabilities in the sense that your employees will be making use of their annual leave sooner rather than later.
  • It also protects you in the sense that your staff members will be agreeing to such an arrangement being put in place whereby they are happy to take a day or two off their usual working hours in an unpaid manner – but they still get to keep their job.
  • To obtain further advice about this (and we highly recommend that you do), please contact one of our professionals at Streeterlaw who will be able to assist you in tailoring one of these agreements to your specific needs or by providing you with further advice as to your current situation.

2. Government handouts/rebates on your BAS

  • Streeterlaw is aware of particular government handouts that are being provided to businesses that are experiencing hardship.
  • We highly recommend that you obtain advice from a trusted tax adviser or accountant.
  • If you do not have contact with an accountant that you use regularly, we have a very close knit group of accountants and tax advisers that we would be happy to link you up with. We are also happy to provide you with legal advice and legal drafting for the types of documents that your accountant requires of you.

3. How to get your outstanding bills paid

  • More than ever, your unpaid outstanding debts that are owed to you need to be called in.
  • At Streeterlaw we have a very robust debt recovery team that is willing and able to assist you in all of your debt recovery matters.
  • Although the Courts have very limited ability at this point in time to have face-to-face contact and to run face-to-face hearings, the Courts are still very much open for business in an online capacity.
  • Accordingly, Streeterlaw would be more than happy to assist you in pursuing your debts through legal avenues.
  • This will include us preparing final Letters of Demand on your behalf as well as filing a Statement of Claim in Court and where necessary, filing for Default Judgment and advising you on the various avenues of enforcement of the Default Judgment as and when this becomes relevant.
  • Speak to one of our Debt Recovery Solicitors today to find out more about how you can call in your debts in this uncertain climate.

4. Tenancy laws set to change

  • There are proposed discussions at the moment Australia-wide regarding changes that may be made to the Tenancy Laws.
  • If these changes are to be implemented, it looks like there may be no effect given to rent arrears or eviction notices for an initial emergency period of 120 days due to the current Coronavirus crisis.
  • The discussions that are being had also span to a period of 90 days in which the tenant may be able to seek a further extension in exceptional circumstances.
  • Although these proposed changes haven’t become law as yet, we anticipate this coming through in Parliamentary Cabinet Meetings in the near future.
  • What this does is give you as a business owner who operates their business out of a commercial shop, a potential opportunity to enter into discussions with your Landlord to agree to reduce your rent for a period of time, or to freeze or stall your rent payments for a period of time.
  • Speak to a Streeterlaw Solicitor today if you would like us to enter into negotiations with your Landlord on your behalf – or, if you need your Commercial Lease reviewed to see where you stand.
  • If you are about to enter into a new Commercial Lease, please call us now so that we can help advise you of your next steps.

5. Don’t panic!

  • Streeterlaw is here as your trusted advisers to assist you with your legal matters by providing wise advice on ways to assist you to ensure that your business doesn’t close-up as a result of the COVID19 pandemic.

If there is something you are concerned about, please give us a call on 02 8197 0105 – we are more than happy to help you.

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Written by Jamal Bakalian

Jamal Bakalian

After studying a double degree in Law and International & Global Studies at Sydney University, Jamal completed her GDLP at the College of Law. She is currently undertaking her Masters of Law (majoring in Commercial Litigation). Jamal has been practicing Law for 5 years. With a passion for resolving disputes, Jamal is a valuable member of the Commercial Litigation team at Streeterlaw.

Call us on 02 8197 0105 to book an appointment with Jamal Bakalian!

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