FWO sees red over alleged underpayments at painting business


The operator of a painting business in Brisbane is set to face the Federal Circuit Court for alleged underpayments committed against two employees.

Set to face court is sole trader Michael Ross, who operated the business, who was involved in the underpayments of the workers in January 2020.

It is alleged that one of the employees was paid $150 for all hours worked, including a $30 fuel allowance, and the other worker was not paid at all, violations under the Building and Construction General On-site Award 2010.

A Compliance Notice was issued for contraventions of the minimum wage, casual loading, special allowance and industry allowance requirements under the award. However, the FWO allege that Ross, without reasonable excuse, failed to comply with the notice which required him to calculate and back-pay the workers’ entitlements.

“Under the Fair Work Act, Compliance Notices are important tools used by inspectors if they form a belief that an employer has breached workplace laws,” Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said. “Where employers do not comply with our requests, we will take appropriate action to protect employees. A court can order a business to pay penalties in addition to back-paying workers.

“Any employees with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact the Fair Work Ombudsman for free assistance,” Parker added.

The FWO is seeking penalties of up to $6300 against Ross for failing to comply with the Compliance Notice. It also seeks a court order for Ross to take the action required by the Compliance Notice.

A directions hearing has been listed in the Federal Circuit Court in Brisbane on 1 March 2021.



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Australia closes bubble with New Zealand




Australia has put a stop to the New Zealand travel bubble for 72 hours after a South African variant of COVID-19 was detected in a woman after 14 days of isolation.

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Three questions to ask before building a business plan blueprint for 2021


Business conditions for 2021 are beginning to look more optimistic as state borders reopen and restrictions ease – naturally, hospitality, tourism and trade are anticipated to start picking back up as a result. In the 2020 Budget, the Federal Government also committed to key investments in wage subsidies, business tax incentives and additional funding into infrastructure and manufacturing to support recovery. Although viewed as economic boosts, as we’ve witnessed throughout this year – most recently in South Australia – market conditions can change extremely fast, which can drastically affect your business’ direction and priorities.

It’s now more important than ever to create an effective business plan blueprint to help set your business up for success, particularly through the ups and the downs of business. From planning out your cashflow forecast to establishing your price positioning and strategy, a business plan can seem overwhelming but is an effective tool to plan for the future and mitigate any challenges that may come in the new year.

Before you get into the weeds of your business set up and plan for 2021, there are three important questions every business owner needs to ask themselves:

1. What business am I in?

This question helps you understand what is unique about your business, from your products to your services, even your employees and their contributions. Once you’ve established this, you can start to build out your goals and objectives to ensure the construction and growth of your business reflects where you want it to be in 2021 and beyond.

2. Who is my ideal customer?

Now it’s time to start thinking about your products or services and where they sit within the market. Will you compete on price with the aim of selling large volumes, or will you position your goods as luxury items? Based on this, who are your target customers? Are they happy to pay for quality products or are they likely to shop around? You can then match your pricing position to your business goals, taking into account the hard costs of your products and services as well.

3. What are the key business elements to consider?

After you’ve answered the first two introductory but critical questions, you can start to think in more detail about your overall strategy and approach. Aspects like core competitive advantage, forecasting your cashflow, government compliance and even market research are all important considerations to take into account when planning for the future growth of your business.

Understanding and mapping out all the information and data you can get your hands on will help you map out how the new year will look. While there may be hurdles and unforeseen challenges, it’s important for every business owner to map out the aspects of their business they either control or anticipate.

Finally…

Give your business the best chance of success by taking advantage of free resources available online. Whatever assistance you need – from improving cashflow to purchasing new equipment – asking for help from specialists is often the best place to start. There are numerous resources available to business owners that can be used to help mitigate risk, diversify offerings and create business managers out of the greenest entrepreneurs. Knowing where to start is key.

Paul Presland, General Manager – Small Business Banking, ANZ



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China exports buoy Australia trade surplus




The diplomatic row between Australian and China rolls on, but new figures show trade between the two countries has not been totally throttled by the war of words.

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#China #exports #buoy #Australia #trade #surplus



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Cyber attacks – the technology pandemic


For most of
the global population the year of 2020 was dominated by the dreaded C-word,
COVID-19 but for Australian businesses, government and general public there has
also been another, cybersecurity.

Last year,
Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, announced that Australia had been
victim to a sophisticated and sustained number of cyber-attacks by a
state-based actor.

The announcement and the relentless headlines of businesses falling victim to ransomware and phishing attacks rapidly brought cybersecurity to the forefront of many people’s minds.

According to the OAICs bi-annual Notifiable Data Breaches Report, between January and June of 2020 alone, 518 notifications of potential breaches were received. Further illustrating this to be a consistent problem Australians face on a day to day basis.

In a recent
survey of our customers, 55 per cent of security professionals said they believed
their senior executives were a lot more aware of cyber risks, with another 38
per cent stating that awareness had definitely increased.

The top concerns identified for Australian businesses were ransomware and phishing attacks. This was unsurprising, given the 151 per cent increase of ransomware attacks being reported from January to June 2020 by OAIC.

When asked
where significant cybersecurity investments had been made by these businesses
in 2020, half of respondents said email and endpoint security solutions were
top of the list, closely followed by Security awareness programs at 43 per cent.

These are
all prudent measures that can be taken by organisations to mitigate the risk of
attacks such as ransomware and phishing.

So, moving
into what we hope will be a better year, what can small businesses do to

protect themselves in 2021?

Firstly, keep
your security awareness program fresh. Update content to include the latest
threats and change the activities and channels you use to share your awareness
program to help keep your staff educated on the latest risks.

Conduct a
security maturity assessment – benchmark your organisation’s current security
maturity, create a roadmap of improvements and revisit the score on a periodic
basis to track your progress.

Test your
organisation’s vulnerabilities. Undertake an adversary simulation such as
penetration testing or red teaming which can enable your business to identify
its weaknesses, and work on fixes, before an attacker finds them.

Invest in specialized phishing defence technology. Most next-generation secure email gateways will contain advanced features such as impersonation protection controls to help mitigate the risk of phishing against your employees.

However, if you are in a high-risk industry you may want to consider technology that is aimed at addressing this specific problem of phishing and Business Email Compromise and even Account Takeover Attacks.

Cybercriminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated year on year. Often, small businesses just don’t have the resources to protect their organisations from attack which can lead to vulnerability. Get advice from the experts where you can and educate your staff regularly to mitigate any potential breaches in 2021 and beyond.

Dane Meah, Co-Founder and Co-CEO, InfoTrust



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Funds pledged to reduce disaster risk




Australia will pledge $1.5 billion over five years to help build a more climate-resilient world and set up a new agency to deal with disaster resilience and risk reduction.

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A guide to digital marketing for small businesses


Being the owner of a small business is no easy task. It requires many skills and at times, can be a careful balancing act. When your time is consumed by so many other aspects of the business, it can be easy to let marketing drop off. In our experience, we’ve seen this happen for a number of reasons, namely; budget, time and talent. So let me share this with you; digital marketing does not need to be a sophisticated, expensive and time-consuming task. In fact, small-business owners can get their business online and begin interacting with customers in just three simple steps.

Use
free website builders

One of the biggest pain points for small-business owners is the creation of a website. It’s often seen as a huge task that they feel under-qualified for yet lack the budgets to do professionally, and it can quickly become an overwhelming task. Let me stop you there.

Unless you’re planning on building a huge
multi-functional e-commerce store, building your own website is entirely
possible to do yourself. Most small businesses just need a basic website to
showcase their products and services. In this case, a full marketing and web
development team is unnecessary. Instead, free website builders like
Squarespace and WIX are great, and they only require a small subscription fee.
They even have templates available so you don’t need to worry about having an
eye for design. They also include tutorials on how to add and remove elements,
meaning no skills are required to get started.

Utilise
Google My Business

Google My Business is yet another free tool
that small business owners can take advantage of. It provides a local listing
for your business, meaning that it can increase the visibility of your brand
when people are searching for you within the area. It’s very simple to set up:

  1. Go to:
    https://www.google.com/intl/en_au/business/
  2. Select manage now.
  3. Type in your business category.
  4. Fill in as many of the remaining
    fields as possible, including; address, where you service, photos, opening
    hours, etc. Note that this won’t be publicly visible until it’s been verified
    by Google (next step).
  5. Once done, Google will send you a
    postcard to verify the business. You’ll need to input the code from the
    postcard into Google and then you’re good to go!

Reviews: how to get them, respond and amplify them

Now that you’ve got a Google My Business
account, invite your customers to leave a review on it. This can be as simple
as sending an email to your database or handing out postcards with instructions
on how to do it. Once you start receiving reviews, make sure you respond to all
of them – even the not so good ones. Existing customers love to see owners
giving their time to say thanks and new customers love seeing a responsive and
caring business owner.

Reviews aren’t limited to Google, you can
encourage your customers to leave reviews on Facebook too. Depending on the
service you offer, some customers may choose to upload a photo to their own
socials and tag the brand. This is typically seen in the beauty and hospitality
industry but it’s not limited to those only. If this is what your customers are
doing, then don’t waste the opportunity! Be sure to interact with their post by
liking and commenting, or if it’s a story, then repost it to your brand’s one.

Getting your business online may feel like a big task, but in reality, there is a sea of things small businesses can be done without investing huge amounts of time and money. For simple tasks, free resources like Google My Business and website builders are great. They reduce the need for hefty spend and don’t require a plethora of skills…perfect for busy professionals!

Andrew Cornale, Co-Founder and Digital Experience Director, UnDigital



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WA bright spot amid clouds




Western Australia is in better economic shape than any other state as we bid a relieved farewell to 2020 and look forward to 2021.

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Restaurant owners optimistic about the year ahead


Despite ongoing challenges presented by COVID-19, the restaurant sector feels more confident going into the new year with a new study revealing that confidence level in the sector has jumped to +42 from a +9 back in August 2020.

According to the latest Deliveroo HospoVitality Index Report, 55 per cent of all restaurant owners surveyed said they felt positive about their own business prospects, with only 13 per cent feeling negative.

Restaurants are, nevertheless, aware of the challenges that lie ahead, with concerns for the state of the national economy (57 per cent), produce prices (53 per cent) and lower consumer spending (47 per cent) being the most pressing concerns in the sector.

The report surveyed more than 300 restaurant owners across Australia, with the help of YouGov, to understand business confidence, industry challenges, how they’ve responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and their growth plans for the future, with a particular focus on workforce structure and expansion plans.

It further revealed workforce structure will be critical to success in 2021, with 81 per cent of restaurant owners saying they plan to hire more staff in the year ahead, indicating early signs of a comeback for the sector. Of those, 59 per cent intend to hire casual staff while 40 per cent said they will hire both full- or part-time permanent staff. Government support is still important, with two thirds (66 per cent) planning to employ at least one additional staff member using the new JobMaker scheme.

The sector was impacted by many valuable migrant workers being forced to return home when international borders closed. In response to this, 38 per cent of restaurants will look to build out their team with more staff on skilled or migrant visas. In addition, 43 per cent of restaurants plan to expand their business in the next 12 months. Smaller restaurants are more cautious, however, with only 33 per cent confident of expansion in 2021 and 51 per cent not expecting to grow.

For restaurants planning to invest in their business in 2021, the priority is for the 64 per cent is new equipment for the back of house area, followed by equipment for front of house (60 per cent) and sustainability initiatives (58 per cent), and 55 per cent are planning to renovate. 36 per cent intend to apply for a loan to fund their expansion and investment plans, while half of all restaurant owners don’t plan to seek finance at all.

“Last year, Australia’s restaurants demonstrated immense strength in the face of unprecedented upheaval,” Ed McManus, CEO of Deliveroo, said. “Last year’s survey saw a nervous sector but just six months later we are all pleased to see a more positive outlook emerge for the year ahead. This not only demonstrates the resilience and adaptability of owners across the industry, but also brings hope for a year of recovery for both the sector and the economy.

“Positive growth and investment plans for the workforce and expansion is an exciting development,” McManus added. “Nevertheless, with outbreaks still occurring at home and abroad, challenges remain and restaurants still require support. However, if the last six months are anything to go by, our restaurants are ready and we will no doubt continue to see some brilliant innovations emerge from the sector.”



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Perenti secures work worth $307m




Perenti has won a series of new contracts and extensions in WA, including at sites held by Gold Fields, Western Areas and Consolidated Minerals.

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