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ATO introduces new working from home deduction scheme

Posted on April 16, 2020 by admin

COVID-19 is forcing many businesses to work from home, meaning that you now have to pay for expenses such as heating and lighting that were previously covered by employers.

The ATO has introduced a new ‘shortcut method,’ where you can claim additional running expenses at a rate of 80 cents for each hour you work from home as a result of COVID-19.

Deductible running expenses include:

The shortcut will apply from 1 March 2020 to 30 June 2020. A record of hours worked such as timesheets or rosters must be kept as proof. If you only undertake minimal work tasks from home such as occasionally checking emails or taking calls, then you are not eligible for the deduction. To claim the deduction, you must specify your claim with the note “COVID-hourly rate” when lodging your upcoming 2019-20 tax return.

There are two pre-existing alternative methods to claim working from home deductions that individuals may choose to use, however, they are generally more tedious:

These deductions are only eligible for the proportions of the expenses that are actually used for work purposes. For example, if you’re using your own phone to make work calls, then only the portion of the bill that was incurred due to work calls can be claimed. If the room you are working in is shared with others, you can only claim electricity expenses for the hours you were exclusively using that room for work purposes.

Expenses such as rent, mortgage and insurance cannot be claimed unless you have a permanent home office.

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How to support your employees through COVID-19

Posted on May 18, 2020 by admin

Supporting your employees during chaotic times as an empathetic leader will improve your relationships within your business and boost personal confidence. Here are some ways you can support your employees mentally and financially during these uncertain times.

Be open with your employees
As businesses implode due to current economic circumstances, employees want transparency and closure over the state of the business and their employment. Thus, being open about your business’ finances and both your short-term and long-term growth initiatives when communicating with your employees will earn their trust and appreciation.

Being transparent over your employees’ job security is also a good idea, as unemployment is becoming a major concern for all Australians. Reassuring your employees and guaranteeing their safety will also boost productivity levels and business morale as a major source of anxiety is lifted off of their shoulders.

Take mental health seriously
You can support your employees’ mental health by encouraging a healthy work-life balance (especially if they are working from home) as well as offering tutorials, professional mentoring sessions and online webinars on mindfulness and effective stress management strategies. Be more lenient with your employees who are struggling with productivity due to mental fatigue and enforce healthy lifestyle habits.

Another way to protect your staff’s mental health is to give all your employees financial advice and education, even if they are not struggling financially at the moment. Let them know that you care for their livelihood and can support them with constructive guidance.

Take care of your staff’s physical health
Taking care of your employee’s physical health as well as their mental health will also relieve your employees’ stress levels and give them peace of mind when working with you. Allow your employees to work from home whenever possible and provide disinfectants like hand sanitiser and alcoholic wipes in your workspace to reinforce health precautions. Enforce social distancing procedures such as the 1.5m distance rule and strive to eliminate physical health risks related to your employees. It is vital that no employee comes to work if they are feeling sick.

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