We know that coronavirus (COVID-19) has thrown up a lot of uncertainty around who is able to work, what is operating, what support you have, and what happens if your workplace is shut down.

At HSA, our number-one priority is the health, safety and wellbeing of our members, making sure you are in a safe workplace, and able to support yourself and your loved ones financially, so we have all the information you need to know about coronavirus and how it impacts your salon.

Is my salon forced to close? 

As of Monday, March 23, salons are not on the list of non-essential businesses that must be shut down. You are allowed to remain open and serve clients, provided you are following health and safety guidelines. If this situation changes, HSA will update our website and Facebook ASAP. 

How do I keep my workplace safe?

It is essential to clean down all surfaces between each client, thoroughly wash your hands as often as possible, and, if you must come within 1.5 metres of a client (i.e. to cut their hair or perform beauty services) to wear a mask, which must be provided by your employer. 

HSA has put together a full list of guidelines, which you can read here. We also have more information on your health and safety rights, and what to do if your boss isn’t letting you follow procedure.

I am a sole trader – what do I do?

If you rent a chair in a salon, are a freelance hair stylist, or just manage your own little salon, as long as you have a registered ABN, the following support is available to you:

  • An increased write-off of your assets. This means you can claim a tax deduction for anything which you have purchased for work purposes (i.e. furniture for your salon, a car to attend to clients in their homes) up the value of $150,000 (an increase from $30,000). This applies to both new and second hand assetsFor more information on how to write off your assets, click here. 
  • If you earn less than $1,075 per fortnight as a sole trader, due to a slowdown in business or forced closure (i.e. the salon you rent a chair in has decided to close) you may be eligible for newly-announced income support from the government. For more information, click here. 
  • You can access the Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme, where the government will provide a 50% guarantee for unsecured loans for you to inject as capital into your business, up to $250,000 with an initial six-month repayment holiday. Because the loan is unsecured, you will not have to provide any assets as security, such as your home or business assets, and you will not be charged interest on money you don’t draw from the account. Read detailed information here.

If you have any more questions about what options are available to sole traders, please reach out to us.

My employer said they are closing because of coronavirus and I can’t come in, plus I won’t get paid – can they do that?

If you are apermanent worker (full-time or part-time) under the Fair Work Act, an owner can stand down an employee without pay if they cannot do “useful work” due to “equipment breakdown, industrial action or a stoppage of work for which the employer can’t reasonably be held responsible.”

If you are a casual worker, your employer has no obligation to provide set rostered hours on a weekly basis (which is why we need to work harder for pay equity for casual workers!).

If you are an apprentice and your workplace is closing down, then your employer should help you find a new salon to continue your training. We understand this could be a bit difficult in the current situation, so if this does happen to you, contact HSA for next steps.

Am I able to use leave if this happens?

Yes, if you have annual leave you can use your annual leave while out of work. If you are ill during this time, forced to self-isolate, you can also claim personal leave.

If you find yourself under financial hardship, there are options available – please contact HSA for more information on this.

What government assistance is available for small businesses?

There are significant provisions for small businesses across Australia:

  • Businesses with a turnover of under $50 million annually will receive a tax-free cash payment between $20,000 $100,000 to help you employ your staff and keep up with fixed operating costs. You will receive a payment worth 100% of the tax paid to all salaries and wages paid, including your own. This will be paid automatically by the ATO based on your monthly or quarterly statements.You will still receive a minimum payment of $20,000 even if you are not required to withhold tax. Read more info here
  • Businesses who employ apprentices will receive a wage subsidy of 50% of the apprentice’s wage for 9 months between 1 January and 30 September 2020, with a maximum of $21,000 paid. Find out more info here
  • All small businesses will be able to receive a six-month deferral of their loan repayment, as governed by the Australian Banking Association. You should talk to your bank or lending provider for more information.

At HSA, we understand this is a difficult time for employers, who have seen a huge downturn in business while operating costs continue to stack up. However, the government has promised significant funding, specifically so small businesses can keep their doors open and keep people at work, and we urge those who can to do right by their employees and provide financial assistance.

Sticking Together 

We know what if we stand together as an industry, a community, and a union, if we support one another, we will come through this. HSA will continue to do everything we can to look out for our members and make sure you are looked after. 

If you are facing a stand-down, if you’re being forced to work in what you feel is an unsafe environment, or if you’re not receiving your rightful entitlements, please speak to us ASAP.