COVID-19 news and CEO Updates
Risk minimisation in face to face data collection during the Covid-19 pandemic
Risk minimisation when interviewing via online video software
Update on recent announcements & JobKeeper Extension Factsheet
Government support and advice
Summary of Government – COVID Emergency Response Plan
Free COVID resources
Web Security and Privacy Considerations
Virtual Member Catch ups
NewMR Report on researchers and COVID-19
The Research Society is keep you up to date with latest COVID-19 news and resources via emails and CEO updates – click here for our news feed
New Updated information - Risk minimisation in face to face data collection during the Covid-19 pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve in Australia and overseas. This advice is for Members who wish to consider the use of face to face data collection for projects.
Note that Members are advised not to conduct any face to face activities in areas that are currently in lockdown as a result of a COVID-19 outbreak. Areas in lockdown may change quickly, so do check the relevant websites (in Appendix) before making a decision on any project.
The primary consideration is that Members must always follow official government guidance on Covid-19, both from the Commonwealth and the state or territory in which they live and/or plan to conduct research.
The advice given here supplements official guidance on COVID-19 with some research considerations. It is based on our current understanding of government guidance, which is subject to continuous development. It remains the responsibility of Members to keep up to date with government guidance, which may differ by state and territory and over time.
As there is still concern about social contact, owing to recent and potential further outbreaks, the Research Society asks Members to carefully consider their responsibilities towards the general public, people working with them and their clients. It is vital to retain public confidence in our sector’s activities and to not contravene any government guidance and advice on social contact and distancing.
Risk minimisation is essential when considering face to face data collection at this time.
Members must, of course, adhere to the Research Society Code of Professional Behaviour at all times, with particular reference at this time to avoiding harm of any kind to participants. This may include the risk to physical health from contracting COVID-19 or to mental health from anxiety at being asked to come into contact with others or being asked about certain topics.
Members should also obtain independent advice about their insurance coverage and their legal situation during the pandemic.
Our thanks to our strategic partner MRS in the UK whose guidance on this topic assisted in the development of this advice.
Health Related Advice
Websites providing useful information and advice on requirements on working safely during the Covid-19 restrictions.
Coronavirus Australia app
General Working Safely with COVID-19 Advice
Australian Institute of Food Safety:
Risk minimisation when interviewing via online video software
The COVID-19 pandemic has driven the rapidly increasing use of online video software, such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams, for virtual face to face interviewing.
Members are reminded to carefully consider and plan the use of online video software, in order to minimise any risks to participants, clients or their own organisation during interviewing. The key issues to consider apply to all interviewing but have particular relevance to the use of online video software.
A key concern is that of possible harm to participants as a result of taking part in the project. Members must take reasonable care to ensure that participants can do so safely. For example, if they are taking part in the interview via their mobile, by asking them not to participate while driving or while walking around where they could have an accident while distracted.
A further issue is that of privacy and data protection. When using online video software, participants may be able to record or take screenshots of other people involved in the discussion or of any information presented to them.
Members must take reasonable care to ensure that:
- The privacy of all participants or viewers is not breached via recording of their images without consent,
- any client materials, concepts or ideas are kept confidential and
- any materials or techniques confidential to the moderator are protected.
As in any face to face interview or discussion, good practice is to inform participants at the start about steps taken to ensure their privacy and of the confidentiality of all information and materials shared in the discussion. This should include advising participants not to take any recordings or screen shots during the interview. Members should also ask them to take part in a place where they will not be overheard, if possible.
Software programs have differing levels of privacy settings. When deciding which programs to use, Members are advised to review them for general privacy protections and also to determine whether all participants can freely record or whether this function can be blocked.
In summary, when using video software for interviewing, take extra care beyond the usual safeguards to minimise the risks to the confidentiality of participants, your clients and your organisation.
Update on recent announcements & JobKeeper Extension Factsheet
Australia is back in a state of uncertainty, I’m sure we’re all feeling the same way as leaders of businesses– cautious, paused and wondering what's next. On Tuesday the Government announced the extension of the JobKeeper Payment by a further 6 months to March 2021, providing businesses with a level of certainty during this challenging time. Highlights on this recent announcement are below:
- From 28 September 2020 until 3 January 2021, full time employees will receive $1200 per fortnight and part time and casual employees working less than 20 hours per week will receive $750 per fortnight.
- From January 4 2021 until 28 March 2021, full time employees will receive $1000 per fortnight and part time and casual employees working less than 20 hours per week will receive $650 per fortnight.
- Businesses will still need to show a reduced turnover of 30% (or 50% if the businesses turnover is more than $1 billion), however reporting requirements have now changed. Businesses will need to demonstrate that they have met the relevant decline in turnover test in both June and September 2020 quarters, relative to comparable periods, in order to eligible for the JobKeeper subsidy in the December quarter.
- Businesses will then need to demonstrate that they have met the decline in turnover test again in the quarter until 31 December 2020 in order to be eligible to receive payment in 2021.
- The Commissioner of Taxation will have discretion to set out alternative tests that would establish eligibility in specific circumstances where it is not appropriate to compare actual turnover in a quarter in 2020 with actual turnover in a quarter in 2019, in line with the Commission’s existing discretion.
There is a fact sheet on the JobKeeper extension included here.
The Research Society is here for you during this time. If you need advice, help or support please don’t hesitate to contact me directly on the details below. We are igniting our community of research professionals and businesses to share and learn from one another during this time, together we are stronger.
CEO, The Research Society
+61 2 9566 3100
Summary of Government Advice:
JobKeeper Payments – an update
The ATO have released comprehensive information regarding the administration of the JobKeeper payment. What you need to know:
- Eligibility requirements that have previously been communicated remain the same, however there is further explanation how a reduction in turnover can be evidenced including the provision for the Taxation Commissioner to extend an ‘alternative test’ if your organisation falls outside the standard “turnover tests”
- Applications open on April 20 via the ATO website.
- Prior to submitting an application, you are required to have all eligible employees complete and sign a JobKeeper employee nomination process which can be found on the ATO website.
- Employers wanting JobKeeper payments to start from the fortnight commencing 30 March must apply by April 26.
- Continue to pay at least $1500 to each eligible employee per JobKeeper fortnight (the first fortnight being 30 March – 12 April)
- The first payments are due to be released in the first week of May.
Please visit the ATO website for the full and current details of how to apply and access these important payments.
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) have developed a Job Keeper Payment Employer Guide to assist.
New Victorian Grant for Small Business
On 28 March 2020, the Victorian Premier announced a new Government grant of $10,000 that will be available to small Victorian business operators that employ staff.
To be eligible to apply for the grant, the business will need to:
1. employ staff;
2. hold an ABN as at 16 March 2020 and have turnover of greater than $75,000 for the 2020 financial year;
3. have annual wages of less than $650,000 in the 2020 financial year; and
4. have been directly impacted by Government closure measures.
To obtain a grant, eligible businesses need to apply online via the Business Victoria website by 1 June 2020.
The Australian Federal Government delivered a historic wage subsidy to the value of $130 billion, impacting around 6 million workers. The payment help will ensure eligible employers (including charities and not-for-profits) and employees stay connected while some businesses move into hibernation.
- This subsidy will see workers receive a flat payment of $1,500 per fortnight through their employer, before tax.
- The payment will be paid to employers, for up to six months, for each eligible employee that was on their books on 1 March 2020 and is retained or continues to be engaged by that employer.
- Where a business has stood down employees since 1 March, the payment will help them maintain connection with their employees.
- Eligible employers will be those with annual turnover of less than $1 billion who self-assess that they have a reduction in revenue of 30% or more, since 1 March 2020 over a minimum one-month period.
- Eligible employers include businesses structured through companies, partnerships, trusts and sole traders. Not for profit entities, including charities, will also be eligible.
- The program will commence, 30 March 2020, with the first payments to be received by eligible businesses in the first week of May as monthly arrears from the ATO.
- To register your interest visit the ATO website here: https://www.ato.gov.au/general/gen/JobKeeper-payment/
To read more about yesterday’s announcement please click here: https://www.pm.gov.au/media/130-billion-jobkeeper-payment-keep-australians-job
Comprehensive fact sheets from Treasury can be found here: https://treasury.gov.au/coronavirus/jobkeeper
We hope the recent announcements over the last week have been able to provide our members with some certainty and parameters for decision making whilst we navigate these unchartered waters.
COVID-19 Second Stimulus Package
On Sunday 22 March, the Australian Federal Government delivered a second stimulus package estimated to be worth $66b. Key points for businesses:
Boosting Cash Flow for Employers:
- This assistance is aimed towards companies, including not-for-profits, with an annual turnover of up to $50m.
- The Government is providing up to $100,000 to eligible small and medium sized businesses, and not‑for-profits (including charities) that employ people, with a minimum payment of $20,000. These payments will help businesses’ and not-for-profits’ cash flow so they can keep operating, pay their rent, electricity and other bills and retain staff.
- The cash injection will be linked to your company’s wages bill through the taxes an employer withholds during the year.
- The assistance will be paid via the current ATO system once the March BAS is lodged direct to your company’s bank account. The payments will be delivered by the ATO as a credit on your business activity statements.
Regulatory Protection and Financial Support for Businesses:
- The Government will establish the Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme which will support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to get access to working capital to help them get through the impact of the coronavirus.
- Under the Scheme, the Government will guarantee 50% of new loans issued by eligible lenders to SMEs. This will unlock up to $40b in finance available for SMEs.
- There will be more flexibility in respect to creditor initiated insolvency and voluntary administration actions. Moving the outstanding amounts limits from $2000 to $20,000, and timing to respond to 6 months instead of 21 days.
- Relief for directors while trading insolvent will also be provided over the next 6 months.
To read more about the above information please click here:
Summary of the Coronavirus [COVID- 19 PLAN] Australian Govt Health Sector Emergency Response Plan in Summary
The Research Society has summarised the 5 page CORONAVIRUS [COVID- 19 PLAN] Australian Govt Health Sector Emergency Response Plan in Summary:
Various Free Safety Resources:
It is important to have signs and posters around the workplace to remind staff and others of the risks of COVID-19 and the measures that are necessary to stop its spread. This includes posters on what is COVID-19 and how we can stop it spreading, how to wash your hands and the physical distancing requirements. Display posters in common areas. For these and other posters to go the Safe Work Australia Website www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/doc/signage-and-posters-covid-19
Web conference security and privacy considerations to consider in this challenging time
Web conferencing Security
When hosting or participating in web conferences, consider the following security considerations from the Australian Government: https://www.cyber.gov.au/publications/web-conferencing-security
Zoom have stepped up and have increased their focus on privacy and security this week and you would have seen some changes on your account. Here's some tips on how to better secure your next meeting.
OAIC Privacy Considerations
Assessing risk in changed working environments:
Understanding your privacy obligations to your staff:
Virtual Zoom Catch ups
We invite you to join us every fortnight for an informal chat via Zoom to touch base “in person” with your research peers.
NewMR – Report on Researchers and COVID-19
Our friends at NewMR have conducted a short study to help understand the impact of COVID-19 on researchers and insights professionals and explore what sort of support and assistance researchers and insights professionals may need from industry bodies and research associations at this time. The study was conducted globally from 29 March to 3 April 2020 and future waves are planned to provide updates. If you would like read some of the key findings from Wave 1 or the report you can find these at https://newmr.org/blog/covid-report-wave1/
Participate in Wave 2 now – closes 8 May 2020