The World Health Organisation (WHO) has now declared the coronavirus a pandemic, giving rise to uncertainty among small to medium business owners, many of whom were already hurting from the recent bushfires.
Recognising that information for this category of employers is scarce, Business Australia has integrated a range of resources including an overview of the virus to what it means for employers, as well as links to a number of relevant government resources for SMEs seeking help.
“We created our extensive employer’s guide to coronavirus so that SME’s can have a single destination to reference in this ever-evolving situation,” Richard Spencer, chief customer experience officer at Business Australia told My Business.
“We want to provide employer’s with the facts about their obligations, acknowledging the wellbeing of employees is so important to the success of Australian businesses. There is so much information out there, and navigating through this when you are running a business is challenging,” said Mr Spencer.
The Business Australia guide is available here.
Speaking to My Business last week, the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO), Kate Carnell, stressed that the coronavirus is having a much broader impact on local businesses than the bushfires.
“The numbers of tourists have declined dramatically. First off, they declined because of the bushfires. People in America and other places saw Australia as a pile of ash because of the way the media represented Australia globally,” Ms Carnell explained.
But the impacts are also being felt elsewhere, with supply chains suffering across the board.
“The construction industry is concerned that they’re starting to be affected because a lot of the hardware-type items, paneling, cabling, a whole range of things, come from China. So, they’re likely to be affected.”
Stressing the need for government help, the ombudsman said it is crucial that businesses don’t find themselves in a situation where they have to reduce staff.
“Looking at ways that the government can support small business to keep staff on, through this downturn, is a really good approach.”