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Australia & NZ Legislation Alert Bulletin

Blogs Legislation and Compliance

In recent months, governments all over the world have made legislation changes that impact payroll and HR to help organisations support their employees during the COVID-19 global pandemic.

This page outlines the updates for Australia and New Zealand region. The full ANZ Legislation Alert Bulletin can be downloaded at the bottom of the page

Commercial use of this document is not allowed unless approved in writing by Ascender. Read Disclaimer



Australia Federal

Economic Response to the Coronavirus

Impact: For employers’ general guidance

Summary: On 30 March, the Government announced the AUD 130 billion JobKeeper Payment to help keep Australians in jobs as we deal with the significant economic impact from the Coronavirus.

The Government’s economic response targets three areas:

  • Supporting Individuals and Households
  • Support for businesses
  • Supporting the flow of credit

Businesses significantly impacted by the Coronavirus will be able to access a wages subsidy to continue paying your employees. Under the JobKeeper program, employers will be able to claim a fortnightly payment of $1,500 per eligible employee from 30 March 2020, for a maximum of six months. This assistance will help employers keep staff and will help them restart when the crisis is over.

Other economic assistance intended to help individuals and households can be found in this link.

As of 31 March, the JobKeeper Payment is not yet a law as per Australian Tax Office.

Primary Source:

More Federal Alerts

  • New Pandemic Leave
  • Early Access to Superannuation
  • Awards to be Varied for COVID-19
  • Registration for the Australian Government’s Small Business Wage Subsidy to Retain Apprentices and Trainees
  • Higher Education Relief Package
  • $3 Million to Boost the National Coordinated COVID-19 Research Response
  • Boosting Cash Flow for Employers

Download full Australia & NZ Legislation Alert Bulletin


New Zealand

Extension granted to determination EE002:

Payments to employees for working from home costs during the COVID-19 pandemic

During the Covid-19 pandemic the IRD issued a determination – EE002: Payments to employees for working from home costs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This determination was designed to clarify the tax treatment of payments made to reimburse costs for employees that were forced to work from home due to Covid-19 lockdowns.  This was meant to be a temporary measure for six months ending on 17th September.

However, the IRD have now announced the following:

The Commissioner is currently considering issuing a public statement dealing with the tax implications of having employees working from home as a “new way of working” rather than being limited to the enforced way of working that occurs during a lockdown period of the COVID-19 pandemic. Because this public statement will not be ready for publication before 17 September 2020, it is the Commissioner’s view that both employers and employees should be able to continue applying the approach set out in Determination EE002 until 17 March 2021. This will allow time for the Commissioner to consider all matters relating to the tax consequences of employees working from home. 

In order to achieve this outcome the Commissioner is issuing this determination in terms of s 91AAT(6) of the Tax Administration Act 1994, to vary and extend Determination EE002 by: 

  • removing the requirement that the expenditure or loss must be incurred by the employee as a result of the employee being required to work from home because of the COVID-19 pandemic, wherever this requirement appears in Determination EE002; and 
  • extending the timeframe by a further 6 months; 

CLICK HERE for more information about the extension.

Resurgence Wage Subsidy

Because of the recent increase in Covid-19 cases in New Zealand and the subsequent move to Alert Level 3 in Auckland and Alert Level 2 in the rest of New Zealand the government has announced a new Resurgence Wage Subsidy for businesses affected by the changes.  The government has also announced changes to the Covid-19 Leave Support Scheme.

There are currently two wage subsidy schemes still available.  The original scheme closed in June 2020.

  • The 8-week Wage Subsidy Extensionpayment is still available nationally for employers. However, applications for the Wage Subsidy Extension close on 1 September 2020.  To be eligible employers must have had at least a 40% decline in revenue for a 30-day period in the 40 days before they apply compared to the closest period last year.
  • A 2-week Resurgence Wage Subsidypayment is also now available nationally for employers who are financially impacted by the recent resurgence of COVID-19 and changes to the COVID alert levels.  Applications can be made from 1pm on 21 August 2020 to 11:59pm on 3 September 2020.

CLICK HERE to find all the details.

Leave support scheme changes

Previously if employers wanted to apply for the Leave Support Scheme they had to meet a revenue test. From 1pm on 21 August 2020 the revenue test won’t apply.

This payment used to be called ‘COVID-19 Essential Workers Leave Support’ because it was only available to essential businesses. It’s now called ‘COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme’ because it’s available for all employers returning to work who meet the criteria.

The scheme is for employees that:

  • have tested positive for COVID-19 and are required to remain off work until they’ve been cleared by a health professional to be released from self-isolation, or
  • have come into contact with someone who has COVID-19 and must self-isolate for 14 days (as required by Ministry of Health guidelines)
  • are at higher risk if they get COVID-19, and Ministry of Health guidelines recommend they stay at home while public health restrictions are in place
  • have household members who are at higher risk if they get COVID-19 and the Ministry of Health recommends the employee also remains at home to reduce the risk to them.

The Leave Support Scheme is paid as a lump sum to the employer and covers 4 weeks per employee at the same rates as the wage subsidy rates.

CLICK HERE for more details on the changes to the Covid-19 Leave Support Scheme.

COVID-19: Economic Response Package

Impact: For employers’ general guidance

Summary: Finance Minister outlined on 17 March 2020 an NZD 12.1 billion package to support New Zealanders and their jobs from the global impact of COVID-19.

As the situation changed, the package has been expanded. The package now includes:

  • An initial $500m boost for health, because the best medicine for the economy is getting the virus under control.
  • $126m in COVID-19 leave and self-isolation support for people who are unable to work because they’re sick, self-isolating, or caring for dependants. Since being announced, this has been rolled into the Wage Subsidy Scheme.
  • A $2.8b income support package for our most vulnerable, including a permanent $25-per-week benefit increase and doubling the Winter Energy Payment for 2020.
  • A $100m redeployment package, to keep more New Zealanders in work.
  • $2.8b in business tax changes to reduce cashflow pressure, including a provisional tax threshold lift, the reinstatement of building depreciation, and writing off interest on the late payment of tax.
  • An initial $600m package to support the aviation sector and protect New Zealand’s supply chains.
  • A $6.25b Business Finance Guarantee scheme for small and medium-sized businesses, to protect jobs and support the economy.
  • A $27m package for social sector services and community groups so they can continue to provide essential support to communities.
  • A leave scheme for essential workers who take leave from work to comply with public health guidance, to ensure they will continue to receive income.
  • Further support for small and medium-sized businesses, including a $3.1 billion tax loss carry-back scheme, changes to the tax loss continuity rules and further business consultancy support
  • Greater flexibility for affected businesses to meet their tax obligations.

Other measures the Government has taken include:

  • The Government, Reserve Bank and retail banks have agreed on a six-month mortgage principal and interest payment deferral for affected individuals and SMEs.
  • To protect renters during this difficult time, we’ve frozen all rent increases for six months, prohibited no-cause terminations for an initial period of three months, and evictions cannot occur for unpaid rent for up to 60 days.
  • Measures to support commercial tenants and landlords.

Primary Source:

More New Zealand Alerts

  • COVID-19 Support for Employers and Employees

Download full Australia & NZ Legislation Alert Bulletin


New South Wales

NSW Health Boost and Stimulus Package

Impact: For employers’ general guidance

Summary: New South Wales Government announced a state government stimulus package that will help to protect communities and jobs in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak over the next six months.

Key elements of this package include:

  • AUD 700 million – additional funding for NSW Health
  • AUD 450 million – waiver of payroll tax for businesses with payrolls of up to AUD 10 million for three months April to June 2020
  • AUD 56 million – for the next round of payroll tax cuts forward, meaning the payroll tax threshold will rise to AUD 1 million in the financial year 2020-21.
  • AUD 80 million – worth of waived fees and charges for small businesses
  • AUD 250 million – to employ additional cleaners of public infrastructure such as transport assets, schools and other public buildings.
  • More than AUD 250 million – to bring forward maintenance on public assets including social housing and crown land fencing
  • AUD 500 million – to bring forward capital works and maintenance.

Primary Source:

More NSW Alerts

  • NSW Government Hires More Staff and Launches 24 Hour COVID-19 Hotline
  • NSW Passes Flexible Long Service Leave Changes to Help Employees and Businesses
  • Economic Stimulus Package 2
  • Rates and Threshold
  • Six Month Moratorium on Residential Tenancy Evictions During COVID-19
  • NSW Government Tax Relief Measures

Download full Australia & NZ Legislation Alert Bulletin



COVID-19 Economic Relief Package

Impact: For employers’ general guidance

Summary: Below are the relief packages announced by the Queensland Government:

  • About AUD 4 billion was allotted for the support Queenslanders’ health, jobs and businesses
  • 5 billion for workers and industry which gives up to AUD 500 million to assist workers who lose their job or income with retraining, job-matching and other help to transition into jobs in the industries that are vital to get Queensland through this crisis – such as health care, agriculture, food production, transport, cleaning and mining.
  • Payroll Tax Relief which includes immediate payroll tax refunds of AUD 740 million for COVID-19 affected businesses and a payroll tax holiday and deferral until the end of 2020 for eligible businesses
  • All small and medium with payroll up to AUD 6.5 million will be eligible for a two-month refund of payroll tax and three-month payroll tax holiday.
  • Larger businesses with payroll over AUD 6.5 million affected by COVID-19 will also be eligible for the two-month payroll tax refund and have their deferral extended for all of 2020.
  • AUD 300 million that will be allotted for the $200 rebate for all 2.1 million household to offset the cost of water and electricity bills.
  • $1.2 billion for health to help increase the capacity of Queensland’s health system to confront COVID-19.
  • An Immediate Industry Recovery Package at $27.25 million, will assist local government, business and industry with resilience and recovery strategies to deal with and mitigate impacts of COVID-19.
  • Economic functional recovery group (EFRG) to coordinate the economic recovery activities for the Queensland Government.

Details can be found in the media statements released by Queensland Government. You may also find more information of the recovery package in the link below.

Primary Source:

More Queensland Alerts

  • Coronavirus Payroll Tax Relief

Download full Australia & NZ Legislation Alert Bulletin


Western Australia

COVID-19 Economic Response: Relief for Businesses and Households

Impact: For employers’ general guidance

Summary: Relief for businesses and households were announced in the Media Statement section of the Government of the Western Australia website. These are additional to the existing relief measures that was announced by WA Government in October 2019.

  • AUD 607 million stimulus package to support WA households and small businesses in the wake of COVID-19
  • AUD 402 million to freeze household fees and charges until at least 1 July 2021
  • Freeze will apply to entire ‘household basket’, including electricity, water, motor vehicle charges, emergency services levy and public transport fares
  • Energy Assistance Payment (EAP) doubled to AUD 600 to support vulnerable Western Australians, including pensioners
  • AUD 114 million in additional measures to support small businesses
  • Small businesses that pay payroll tax will receive a one-off grant of AUD 17,500
  • AUD 1 million payroll tax threshold brought forward by six months to 1 July 2020
  • Businesses impacted by COVID-19 can defer payroll tax payments until 21 July 2020
  • Building on AUD 760 million announced in the past few months to stimulate economy
  • Stimulus measures made possible due to McGowan Government’s responsible financial management and strong budget surplus

Detailed information and daily update on the precautions done by the WA Government can be found in the Western Australia Government website.

Primary Source:

More Western Australia Alerts

  • COVID-19 Relief: Payroll Tax Employer Guide
  • Western Australian Government Pandemic Plan

Download full Australia & NZ Legislation Alert Bulletin



Tasmanian Support and Stimulus Package

Impact: For employers’ general guidance

Summary: The Tasmanian Liberal Government has prepared an AUD 420 million stimulus package to support Tasmania on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This covers below:

  • Household Assistance
  • Supporting Primary Health & Mental Health Sectors
  • Assistance for Small Businesses
  • Assistance for Local Government
  • Targeted Industry Assistance: Tourism, Hospitality & Fisheries

Detailed information is found in the Fact Sheet released by Tasmanian Government and can be found the link below.

Primary Source:

More Tasmania Alerts

  • Payroll Tax Relief Measures
  • New Social and Economic Support Package Released

Download full Australia & NZ Legislation Alert Bulletin



Victorian Government Announces Stimulus, Tax Relief Measures

Impact: For employers’ general guidance

Summary: The Victorian Government has established an economic survival package to support Victorian businesses and workers through the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The AUD 1.7 billion Economic Survival Package complements the work of the Federal Government.

The package includes the following key programs.

  • Payroll Tax Refund in which Businesses with annual taxable wages up to AUD 3 million will have their payroll tax for the 2019-2020 financial year waived. This will support 24,000 businesses and up to 400,000 workers.
  • Working for Victoria Fund worth AUD 500 million will give displaced workers the eligibility to apply for different types of work.
  • Business Victoria HOTLINE is established so that businesses can access information on dealing with COVID-19

Primary Source:

More Victoria Alerts

  • Tax Relief Measures for Eligible Victorian Businesses Impacted by COVID-19

Download full Australia & NZ Legislation Alert Bulletin


South Australia

South Australia Government Response Package

Impact: For employers’ general guidance

Summary: South Australian Government’s stimulus package will inject a total of AUD 1 billion to help drive the economy, secure jobs and support industry.

This will be inclusive of the AUD 350 million package first announced by the government. The stimulus package aims to safeguard South Australia’s economy and minimise the economic impacts of the COVID-19 global crisis.

The second economic stimulus package, costing AUD 650 million, includes significant payroll and land tax relief for thousands of businesses across the state:

  • Payroll tax relief (up to AUD 60 million of savings to business) which gives 6 months waiver for all businesses with an annual payroll of up to AUD 4 million
  • AUD 300 million Business and Jobs Support Fund to support individual businesses and industry sectors affected by COVID-19
  • AUD 250 million Community and Jobs Fund
  • Cost of Living Concessions (an estimated additional benefit of about AUD 30 million)

For essential information about the South Australian Government’s COVID-19 response, visit the South Australian Government website on this link.

Primary Source:$1-billion-stimulus-package-to-save-sa-jobs,-businesses

 More South Australia Alerts

  • Payroll Tax Waiver/Deferral
  • Job Keeper Payment (Commonwealth)

Download full Australia & NZ Legislation Alert Bulletin


Northern Territory

NT Government Announces AUD 60 Million Coronavirus Economic Stimulus Package

Impact: For employers’ general guidance

Summary: The Northern Territory (NT) Government has announced an AUD 65 million stimulus package Jobs Rescue and Recovery plan aimed to help stimulate the economy and keep jobs.

This package is the second phase of the response to the significant economic impact of COVID-19 and is complementary to initiatives offered by the Federal Government to all jurisdictions.

Some of the component of the package includes:

  • Home Improvement Scheme – AUD 30 million
  • Immediate Work Grant – AUD 5 million
  • Handbrake on increases to government fees and charges
  • Payroll tax exemptions
  • Supporting casual workers

Primary Source:

Download full Australia & NZ Legislation Alert Bulletin


Australian Capital Territory

Economic Survival Package to Support Territory Economy

Impact: For employers’ general guidance

Summary: The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Government announced an economic survival package to support the state. Among the benefits are as follows:

  • All businesses whose operations are directly affected by the ‘prohibited activities list’ such as gyms and indoor sporting venues, cinemas, beauty therapists and nail salons will be eligible to receive a six-month waiver of payroll tax from April to September 2020.
  • All ACT businesses with Australia-wide wages of up to AUD 10 million can defer their 2020-21 payroll tax, interest free until 1 July 2022.
  • Additional $200 rebate through their electricity bill for households
  • Establishment of Jobs for Canberrans Fund to enable the ACT Public Service to hire additional workers on short-term contracts to undertake specific tasks.
  • The government will amend legislation to provide access to Long Service Leave to workers that suffer a loss of income. The legislation would allow the Minister to permit early access to leave payments accrued by workers impacted by the COVID 19 pandemic. These are benefits that employees would have recognised service for but cannot currently be accessed.
  • Staff employed under contracts in the ACT Public Service will automatically have their contracts extended.

More details can be found in the link below.

Primary Source:

Download full Australia & NZ Legislation Alert Bulletin


This interim legislative update consolidates legislations, government guidelines, and policies that Australia and New Zealand have enacted or implemented to help individuals affected by the global pandemic. Governments across Australia and New Zealand have stepped in to help employees through income support, suspension or extension of some statutory payment obligations, and other financial and non-financial assistance.

Although some of the references may provide comprehensive detail of the economic relief offered by the government agencies, not all updates related to COVID-19, however, are included in this bulletin. For instance, details of the economic relief offered to companies and specific industries affected by the pandemic may have been excluded in the updates contained in this bulletin. Updates such as health guidelines and protocols and border and travel restrictions implemented across the countries were also excluded.

This Legislative Update is for general information purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice. You are responsible for obtaining your own legal advice on the contents of this Legislative Update and the application of any legislative changes that may impact upon you or your business. Ascender will not be liable for any damage or loss related to the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of the contents of this Legislative Update and you agree that you solely assume the risk and liability of any actions you take in reliance upon the information contained in this Legislative Update.

Commercial use of this document is not allowed unless approved in writing by Ascender.


Download full ANZ Legislation Alert Bulletin