Has COVID-19 placed your business under serious threat or needing to refocus?

Has your business or your client's business been critically impacted by the effects of COVID-19? Has your business been prevented from conducting business as usual? Do you need immediate support and advice?

Many businesses have been severely affected by COVID-19. We take a look at the legal services and advice required for companies with a pre-COVID-19 business model facing immediate and significant challenges.


These are unprecedented times, and COVID-19 poses challenging legal situations for many businesses and families.

We provide guidance for COVID-19 queries and give key contact details should you require further legal support.

Worried about solvency?

What you can do now and how your options reduce over time

The sooner you address solvency issues in your business, the more options you will have available to turn your business around. Read more.

What's changed in the extended JobKeeper scheme effective 28 September 2021?

Implications for eligible employers and the flexibilities which remain available to formerly eligible employers

The JobKeeper scheme will continue until 28 March 2021, albeit with some reduced benefits for both employers and employees. Read more.

I am a franchisor or franchisee. Have my obligations changed under Australian Consumer Law?

Navigating financial and operational challenges in the franchising sector during COVID-19

The ACCC has published guidance to help franchise parties navigate the operational and financial challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more.

How do I approach my customers about outstanding debt?

Businesses talking to their customers now about unpaid debt will be best equipped to secure maximum recoveries

25 September 2020 will see the end of the Federal Government's moratorium on the initiating steps that a business can take to recover debt from another business through the creditor's statutory demand or bankruptcy notice processes. Read more.

How will stage 4 COVID-19 business restrictions impact my construction project?

Key questions raised by the stage 4 lockdown in metropolitan Melbourne

Stage 4 lockdown will have a direct impact on the construction industry, with the sector going into what Premier Daniel Andrews describes as "pilot light levels". Read more.

Is your business struggling to collect payment for the goods and services it has supplied to its customers?

Temporary changes to insolvency laws

In the current economic climate, it is now more important than ever for businesses to keep a close eye on their accounts receivable and cash flow, and to be aware of their enforcement rights having regard to the recent amendments introduced by the Coronavirus Economic Response Package Omnibus Act 2020 (the COVID Act).

The amendments to enforcement rights introduced by the COVID Act are briefly summarised in the above Temporary changes to insolvency laws article.

Please reach out to our Commercial Disputes team to discuss your enforcement rights or how to respond to enforcement action taken against you, as well as other insolvency or commercial disputes you are facing during COVID-19.

Is your business eligible for JobKeeper? Have you been able to access any Government funding support?

JobKeeper Rules

Explaining the key features of JobKeeper, including employers' eligibility to participate in the scheme. Read more.

The JobKeeper Payment: Employment law issues

A brief overview of the JobKeeper scheme and the employment law questions it generates. Read more.

Changes to the Fair Work Act

The most significant aspect of the amendments to the FW Act is that qualifying employers will be able to require changes to employees' hours of work, annual leave arrangements, performance of duties and location of work and days and times of work. Read more.

Have you had to stand down or make large numbers of staff redundant?

Q&A: Impact of COVID-19 on employment

This Q&A includes guidance for employers on what to consider in the event of employee redundancy. Read more.

Standing down employees

The rapidly evolving nature of COVID-19 and accompanying challenges has greatly renewed focus on the power to stand down employees. Read more.

Have you encountered supply chain issues in the last few months?

How will digitising supply chains help you rebuild and recover?

Corporate partner Lisa Fitzgerald examines how digitisation can manage the risks of supply chain disruption.

With pandemics likely to impact business in the future, it's time to take stock and secure supply chains. COVID-19 has disrupted traditional supply through loss of access to physical sites and direct handling.

A key element of managing this risk is through digitisation. So, what does digitisation look like and where are the weakest links?

COVID-19 has shown that many supply chains still depend on direct human-to-human interaction and an inability to respond quickly to pandemic conditions. It's now time to inspect these elements with fresh eyes, challenge assumptions and explore automation more fully.

Digitisation involves increased use of predictive analytics, machine learning and IoT-enabled devices to bring greater visibility and adaptability.

From a legal perspective, digitisation will likely involve:

  • exiting or re-negotiating current supply contracts
  • ensuring dynamic supply is contractually permitted
  • contracting with competitors in new territories to ensure continuity of supply
  • uptake of IoT devices with regulated telecommunications components
  • acquisition of new technology that can validly collect required data, analyse and share it with third parties

Is your business unable to pay its rent for the commercial premises it leases?

On 7 April 2020, National Cabinet released a Mandatory Code of Conduct (Code) for commercial leasing for small and medium enterprise tenants. The Code provides rules and requirements for landlords to follow in providing rent relief to tenants whose business has been impacted by COVID-19. Rent relief can take the form of a waiver of rent and/or deferral until a later date.

In relation to a landlord's enforcement rights where a tenant has failed to pay its rent, the Code provides that, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the landlord must not terminate a lease or draw on security if a tenant fails to pay rent.

The various states have introduced legislation and regulations to give effect to the Code and a process to deal with disputes if and when they arise.

If you're a landlord or a tenant and require assistance negotiating a commercial resolution to your rent dispute or guidance on the termination rights under the commercial lease and Code, please reach out to our Commercial Disputes team to discuss your matter.

A guide to the National Cabinet's mandatory code of conduct for SME commercial leasing principles

The Code will apply to tenants that are eligible for the Commonwealth Government's JobKeeper program with an annual turnover of up to $50 million. Read more.

An insight into the mandatory code for commercial tenancies

"Let's hibernate and preserve" - key takeaways from the PM's press conference about the proposed mandatory industry code for commercial tenancies. Read more.

Do you need advice on annual, sick and carer's leave entitlements for current or stood-down employees?

No right to take sick leave during stand down

The question of whether employees are entitled to access their accrued sick leave during stand down has been (at least initially) determined by Justice Flick of the Federal Court of Australia. Read more.

What does WorkPac v Rossato mean for insolvent trading?

The recent decision in WorkPac Pty Ltd v Rossato [2020] FCAFC 84 has significant potential implications for the law of insolvency, particularly in relation to the amendments to the Corporations Act in response to COVID-19. Read more.

First JobKeeper disputes decisions by the Fair Work Commission

On 13 May 2020 the Fair Work Commission published one of the first, of what is bound to be many, rulings in the JobKeeper dispute jurisdiction. Read more.

What BAU processes have you needed to automate (due to reduced staff or to reduce direct handling) and has this involved implementing new technology or use of biometric data or new data collection?

If you have introduced new technology or use of biometric data to assist with the collection of individual's data for the purpose of either automation or contact tracing we have prepared a checklist of relevant considerations to be reviewed prior to roll out. Please contact Lisa Fitzgerald for a discussion about the checklist and how it can assist your business.

How are you managing your new distributed workforce and migration back to the office? Is contact tracing being considered?

Tech solutions for contact tracing

Are you considering using your own contact tracing to monitor employees as they return to the workplace? Proceed with caution.

Employers are looking at their responsibility for managing the health of employees as they return to offices. Many are adopting their own contact tracing tech solutions (rather than relying on the government's voluntary COVIDSafe app) to help manage a distributed workforce. Australian employers can collect certain personal data under the employee records exemption but it's not a free pass.

Health information - the data likely to be collected for effective contact tracing - blurs the lines, particularly as the information loses utility if not traceable to identifiable individuals. Importantly, health regulations may apply and higher standards apply to sensitive information. The social benefit and corporate responsibility associated with controlling infection and transmission is inarguable. However, before you roll out your own contact tracing app, consider the following:

  1. identify the data you really need and how long you need to collect and hold it for;
  2. ensure relevant data can be provided to 3rd parties if required; and
  3. understand and comply with the regulations governing the collection, use and storage of such data.

Our team is actively monitoring and considering the implications of legal and regulatory developments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can find our COVID-19 collection here.

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