More dirt track than roadmap until businesses receive answers

CPA Australia

Australia’s leading professional accounting body has published ten questions it says governments must answer to give businesses the certainty they need to re-open or continue trading under state and territory roadmaps.

CPA Australia says that without answers to these questions (listed below), some businesses may remain closed or restrict their trading even after lockdowns end, uncertain about what they can and can’t do.

“Re-opening roadmaps are a positive development and we’re keen to see more of them,” said CPA Australia Chief Executive Andrew Hunter. “But so far they’ve raised many unanswered questions.

“Uncertainty creates risks that have potential costs and consequences. Each business must factor these into its decision on re-opening and how to trade.

“We’re aware of regional businesses which are choosing not to open now, even though they can, because the uncertainty is too great.

“After speaking with our members and business owners, we’ve created a list of questions about roadmaps which are causing the greatest uncertainty for businesses.

“Although businesses can obtain legal advice for some questions, this creates an undue burden, especially for small businesses.

“Governments must answer these questions. They should not leave it to the private sector to muddle its way through. If they don’t provide answers, you’re likely to have as many different approaches as there are businesses in Australia.”

CPA Australia will raise these questions in our meetings with state and territory governments. We’re confident answers will be provided eventually, but we want the flow of information expedited to set businesses up for a successful re-opening.

“It’s going to take time for businesses to meet new COVID-safe and vaccination requirements and adequately train their employees. The more time they have to work through these issues, the better prepared they’ll be.”

We’re also calling on governments to ensure answers to roadmap questions are readily accessible.

“One of the problems we’re seeing, which has been a systemic issue since the pandemic began, is that information is held by numerous government departments, agencies and organisations.

“Businesses are chasing their tails trying to figure out where to go for answers. This increases the likelihood that mistakes will be made and there will be compliance breaches.

“Ideally, we’d like each state and territory to develop a one stop shop of detailed roadmap answers for businesses.”

Businesses and their customers

1. Once lockdown restrictions ease, what businesses and venues will be required to deny entry or in-person services to unvaccinated people?

2. Other than businesses required to serve vaccinated people only, can any other businesses deny entry or in-person services to unvaccinated people?

3. Can businesses request information on the vaccination status of a customer before allowing them entry or providing services?

4. If a person has a medical exemption from being vaccinated, can the business ask for proof, and is the person required to provide it to gain entry or services?

Businesses and their employees

5. Can businesses require employees and contractors to undertake a rapid antigen test immediately before starting a shift or providing in-person services?

6. If vaccination is mandated for an industry, can the business terminate or stand down employees who refuse to be vaccinated, and does this change if vaccination is not mandated for an industry?

7. Can businesses request evidence of an employee’s or contractor’s vaccination status before allowing them into the workplace?

8. Once the 80 per cent fully vaccinated level is reached, if individual employees are required to quarantine, can the business stand them down and, if so, will government financial support be available to these employees?

Managing future closures

9. Once the 80 per cent fully vaccinated level is reached, if an employee, contractor or customer of a business is a confirmed COVID case, will all close contacts of the infected person need to quarantine for 14 days?

10. If a business is required by government to close due to a targeted lockdown, or quarantining of employees or contractors who are close contacts, and this significantly disrupts turnover, what financial support will be available to that business?

/Public Release.