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  • StewartBrown - Aged Care Workforce Strategy Taskforce Submission (June 2018)

Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety

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Aged Care

On 16 September the Prime Minister announced the establishment of a Royal Commission into the aged care sector. Consultation is underway until 25 September to develop the Terms of Reference, which the Government anticipates will include:

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2018 Financial Year Listed Aged Care providers analysis report

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Overall, the financial results reflect the sector trends of pressure on revenue due to the FY18 freeze on ACFI indexation and ACFI scoring changes; occupancy pressures; and increases in staff costs.

As in prior periods, Estia and Regis both have a net tangible liability which is due to the fact the intangible assets are greater than the net tangible assets.

The ratio of liquid cash assets as a percentage of debt has decreased for all three providers due to the lower levels of cash and cash equivalents held.

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GST On Low Value Imported Goods - Risk For Aussie Retailers

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Imported Goods

From 1 July 2018, GST applies to sales of low value imported goods (valued at $1,000 or less) to consumers in Australia. This measure attempts to treat such imported goods in the same way as goods purchased domestically.

Australian retailers need to be careful with this new law to ensure that they aren’t incorrectly charged GST by overseas suppliers. Overseas suppliers, if they have to register for GST, can get what is called a simplified GST registration. This means that they don't have to obtain an ABN and they can't claim input tax credits, but they don't have to issue a tax invoice to the Australian retailer they sell through. It’s only when they sell direct to an Australian customer that they need to charge and collect the GST.

The GST changes are meant to target consumers, so Australian retailers registered for GST should not be charged GST on low value goods imported for use in their business. To avoid any confusion, Australian retailers should therefore provide their ABN and state they are registered for GST to their overseas suppliers.

It's quite common for Australian retailers to warehouse stock in China, Singapore, or elsewhere in Asia, and then sell goods directly to a customer. These goods are generally mailed to customers through the post and previously no GST was added to the sales value. Australian suppliers who deliver goods to Australian consumers from overseas into Australia will now have to levy GST on each of those sales.

If you think this may be an issue for your business and are unsure of the new rules please contact your StewartBrown Partner or Manager to discuss further.

FBT - ATO Attacks Work Vehicles

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Work Van

The ATO has recently revised its guidance on how fringe benefits tax (“FBT”) applies in relation to the private usage of work vehicles.

Previously the ATO issued a definitive list of eligible work-use vehicles (typically tradie, dual cab and panel vans etc), but from 1 April 2017 this list has been withdrawn and employers now have to self-assess.

In the past this law has always been about minor, infrequent travel for work vehicles, but this new ATO guidance puts the onus very much on the employer to prove that work cars are not used just as a perk to retain and attract staff. The ATO’s guidelines now suggest that a vehicle’s private use cannot exceed 1,000km in a year, and no return journey can exceed 200km. This is thought to be much more restrictive than previously understood.

While home to work travel is generally not considered private for these work vehicles, according to these new guidelines, any trip in which a home to work route varies by more than 2km will be considered a personal trip.

This new approach will potentially catch many employers unaware as they have in the past assumed that “work vehicles” (ie on the eligible vehicles list), means no FBT.

Our advice to clients who provide these work vehicles to employees is to make sure you have a policy on work-related vehicles and make sure you can monitor how it is enforced.

Casual Workers - Leave Entitlements

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Casual Worker

Casual workers aren’t normally entitled to be paid for any leave entitlements such as annual leave or long service leave. Their hourly pay rates and other employment conditions generally reflect this fact.

The Federal Court has recently handed down a decision however to grant a casual worker annual leave entitlements. The decision follows The Fair Work Commission deciding to incorporate a ‘model casual conversion’ clause into 85 modern awards, including in the retail, restaurant, banking, aged-care, agriculture, airline, mining, maritime and transport industries. Some commentators are suggesting that this judgment could see a mass conversion of casual workers into permanent employees. Potentially those workers would automatically be entitled to annual leave and sick pay for each year of service, along with various other benefits. In a similar case earlier this year in the Federal Circuit Court a casual worker won a claim for 15 years worth of annual leave entitlements! That case was about a dispute as to whether or not the worker was employed as a casual or a permanent employee.

These decisions should motivate business owners to carefully examine all applicable modern awards that may apply to their staff, particularly where long term, casual type staff are employed. Employers should check all applicable modern awards for their staff to identify whether a 'model casual conversion' clause has been written in and what the term is for casual employment to be considered for conversion to permanency.

Employers could face claims from workers for entitlements reserved for permanent employees, such as claims for annual leave, personal leave and for payment of a notice period on termination as well. Workers who are employed under a casual employment contract and who have been sick may have a right to claim for sick leave taken in the past.

The Court also added that an employee's status may change during the course of an employment. What is agreed to at the commencement of employment is relevant to the characterisation process (ie casual v’s permanent), but employment which commences as casual employment may become permanent full-time or permanent part-time because its characteristics change to reflect those of an on-going part-time or full-time employment.

The Federal Court decision could also see organisations targeted for punitive fines for being in breach of the Fair Work Act. The Federal Court has ordered a hearing to decide what pecuniary penalties should be imposed on the company involved for failure to meet its Fair Work obligations.

In the future employers may want to consider more carefully why they employ casual staff. Typically, employing casuals on a long-term basis is far more expensive than employing a permanent employee and these recent cases cast a new uncertainty over entitlements for casual employees.

If in doubt concerning these matters please contact your StewartBrown Partner or Manager. If you have significant numbers of casual staff in your business you might also seek advice from a lawyer specialising in employment law.

Sydney Office

StewartBrown
ABN: 63 271 338 023
Level 2, Tower 1,
495 Victoria Avenue

Chatswood, NSW, 2067
Tel: (02) 9412 3033
Fax: (02) 9411 3242
info@stewartbrown.com.au


StewartBrown Advisory Pty Ltd
ABN: 19 143 011 750
AFSL: 355134
Level 2, Tower 1,
495 Victoria Avenue

Chatswood, NSW, 2067
Tel: (02) 9412 3033
Fax: (02) 9413 4202
info@stewartbrown.com.au

Adelaide Office

StewartBrown
ABN: 63 271 338 023
Level 1,
104 Frome Street

Adelaide, SA, 5000
Tel: (08) 8229 2280
Fax: (08) 8229 2288
info@stewartbrown.com.au

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