2021 has certainly been a year of unpredictability. To help those businesses that are still impacted by COVID 19, the Government have extended the Code of Conduct for Commercial Leasing which offers assistance for both the tenant and the landowner.
There has also been a number of changes in 2021 that employers need to be aware of, including the stapled super regime, changes in casual employment laws and the Director ID register.
Read on to find out more.
Australia’s Director Identification Number (DIN) regime came into effect on 1 November 2021 and will require all company directors to register for an identification number.
A director ID is a 15 digit identifier that, once issued, will remain with the director for life regardless of whether they stop being a director, change companies, change names or move overseas.
The DIN is managed by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) but created through the Australian Business Registry Services (ABRS).
Who needs a director ID?
All directors of a company, registered Australian body, registered foreign company or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporation will need a director ID. This includes directors of a corporate trustee of self-managed super funds (SMSF).
Timeframes for registration
For Corporation Act directors:
|Date you become a director||Date you must apply|
|On or before 31 October 2021||By 30 November 2022|
|Between 1 November 2021 and 4 April 2022||Within 28 days of appointment|
|From 5 April 2022||Before appointment|
To apply, directors can log into ABRS online using the myGovID app and complete the online application. It is free to apply, and available to directors within Australia and overseas. Applications are available by phone and by paper, for those who need it.
Stapled Super Funds
From 1 November 2021, if you have new employees start and they don’t choose a super fund, you may need to request their ‘stapled super fund’ details from the ATO.
A stapled super fund is an existing super account linked, or ‘stapled’, to an individual employee so it follows them as they change jobs. This aims to reduce account fees, avoiding new super accounts being opened every time an employee starts a new job.
You need to offer your eligible employees, including contractors who are employees for superannuation purposes, a choice of super fund and pay their super into the account they tell you. Most employees are eligible to choose what fund their super goes into. They can choose a super account they already have or choose your default fund. There is no change to this step of your super obligations.
However as of 1st November, if your employee does not choose a super fund, in most circumstances you need to request their stapled super fund from the ATO and make super contributions into this account.
The ATO has provided a reference guide to assist employers with how to request a stapled super fund.
Rent Relief for Commercial Tenants
In NSW the National Cabinet’s Mandatory Code of Conduct for Commercial Leasing has been reintroduced to mandate rent relief for eligible tenants impacted by COVID-19.
Benefit to tenants
The Retail and Other Commercial Leases (COVID-19) Regulation 2021 will be extended until 13 January 2022 and will require landlords to renegotiate rent having regard to National Cabinet’s Code of Conduct. The Code of Conduct requires landlords to provide rent relief in proportion with their tenant’s decline in turnover. Of the rent relief provided, at least 50 per cent must be in the form a waiver, and the balance a deferral.
The Regulation applies to commercial and retail tenants with a turnover of up to $50 million who qualify for the COVID-19 Microbusiness grant, COVID-19 Business Grant or JobSaver Payment. It will prohibit a landlord from evicting or locking out a tenant for certain breaches of the lease unless they have first renegotiated rent and attempted mediation.
Benefit to landlords
Eligible commercial landowners are able to apply for relief on up to 100 per cent of their land tax liability for 2021. To be eligible, the landowner must have reduced rent for the affected tenant by at least the amount being claimed for any period between 1 July 2021 and 31 December 2021.
Changes to Casual Employment Laws
The National Employment Standards (NES) provide casual employees with a pathway to become a permanent employee. This is also known as ‘casual conversion’.
Eligible casual employees can become permanent by their employer offering casual conversion or by making a request to their employer for casual conversion and the process differs depending on the size of the employer.
Employers with > 15 employees
Employers (except small business employers) need to make a written offer to convert their casual employee to permanent employment within 21 days after the employee’s 12-month anniversary, if the employee:
- has been employed by the employer for 12 months
- has worked a regular pattern of hours on an ongoing basis for at least the last 6 months
- could continue working these hours as a full-time or part-time employee without significant changes.
The offer needs to be for the employee to convert to:
- full-time employment, if the employee’s hours worked for at least the last 6 months have been the same as full-time hours, or
- part-time employment (consistent with the employee’s regular pattern of hours worked for at least the last 6 months), if the employee’s hours worked for at least the last 6 months have been less than full-time hours.
All existing casual employees (employed before 27th March 2021) need to be assessed for eligibility and the employer must make a written offer to convert to permanent employment.
Employers with < 15 employees
Small business employers don’t need to offer casual conversion to their casual employees however an eligible casual employee working for a small business employer can request to convert to permanent employment at any time on or after their 12-month anniversary. If the employer refuses the request, they need to tell the employee their reasons why in their written response. Employers can’t refuse a request unless they have consulted the employee and have reasonable grounds.
Further information can be found on the Fair Work website.