Online ratings

Small Business Grant – what is it and who is eligible?

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The Small Business Grant provides small business owners in NSW who don’t pay payroll tax, a grant of $2,000 for each new full-time position employed in their business.

1.     Who is eligible?

This one-off payment is available for each new full-time position in your business and to be eligible, at a minimum, you must:

(a)   have an active ABN; and

(b)   not be liable to pay payroll tax during the initial 12-month employment period for a new employee.

 

The current payroll tax threshold for this financial year is $850,000. For more details on payroll tax liabilities and to see if you may be liable for payroll tax, please visit Revenue NSW’s website at: https://www.revenue.nsw.gov.au/taxes/payroll.

 

It is important to note that this grant only applies for employment that commences prior to 1 July 2019.

 

2.     What type of employment is eligible for the grant?

In order to be eligible for the grant, the new employee must be employed in a role that is a “new job”.

A “new job” is created if the number of your full time equivalent (FTE) employees increases (and is maintained) over a 12-month period from the creation of the new position.

When registering a new job for the grant, the Small Business Grant (Employment Incentive) online application will assist you in calculating your FTE. Alternatively, you can manually calculate your FTE using a formula.

If your FTE falls below the required number for more than 30 days, the Chief Commissioner may not approve your application for the grant.

 

3.     Are there any exclusions?

You are not able to claim the grant for an employee if:

(a)   that employee is not considered a common law employee;

(b)   that employee was employed by you in the previous 12 months before you applied for the grant;

(c)   any wages paid by you for that employee are exempt wages under the Payroll Tax Act 2007 (NSW); or

(d)   you are already entitled to a grant, subsidy or other assistance from the government for that employee.

 

Public, local or municipal bodies or authorities are also excluded from claiming this grant.

 

4.     How much is the grant?

The grant is a one-off payment of $2,000 for each eligible full time employee.

In the case of part time or casual employees, the grant amount will be pro-rated based on a formula.

 

5.     How do I register?

You will need to apply online for the grant once the new employee commences. You can then claim the grant once the position has been filled for 12 months. The online form can be accessed at https://www.revenue.nsw.gov.au/grants/sbg/online

 

At Coutts we provide a range of services to businesses including drafting employment agreements for clients as well as providing advice on employment relationships and obligations under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) and relevant Awards. We also assist with grant applications and advice.

To learn more about the Small Business Grant please go to: https://www.revenue.nsw.gov.au/grants/sbg

For further information please don’t hesitate to contact:

Keely Irving
Lawyer
keely@couttslegal.com.au
02 4607 2124

 

This blog is merely general and non specific information on the subject matter and is not and should not be considered or relied on as legal advice. Coutts is not responsible for any cost, expense, loss or liability whatsoever in relation to this blog, including all or any reliance on this blog or use or application of this blog by you.

Can I write anything I want in a review, irrespective of commercial relationships?

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The short answer to this question may well be “no” following recent case law and examination by the Australia Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in respect of consumer reviews.

Recently, the ACCC has recognised the fact that online consumer reviews are relied upon more and more by consumers as a means of making more informed purchasing decisions. As such, the ACCC has taken an interest in protecting the integrity of such reviews, to ensure businesses are not using this method of advertisement to conduct in a misleading or anti-competitive way.

The ACCC has published a supplier guide called “What you need to know about: Online reviews – a guide for business and review platforms” (the guide) which can be found here.

This guide includes a set of principles that are aimed are preventing the occurrence of misleading reviews online. These principles refer to information contained on ‘review platforms’ which can include blogs, business websites and social media.

The three principles discussed in this guide are:

1.       Be transparent about commercial relationships

Commercial relationships between review platforms, reviewed businesses and/or reviewers could lead to unfair advantages between competing reviewed businesses, according to the ACCC.   Consumers usually expect that reviews on independent review platforms such as Yelp, Google Reviews or OpenTable are not affected by commercial relationships. A business for example, can pay for advertising on a platform’s website or even pay commission payments to the review platforms for purchases made from the platform. The guide and the ACCC is concerned that these commercial relationships may result in reviews with higher ratings, possibly through the removal/non-placement of negative reviews, than would occur if there were no commercial relationship.

It is integral that these types of relationships do not create an unfair advantage and mislead consumers. Disclosure of such commercial relationships to consumers is one way of ensuring you are not breaching the Competition and Consumer Act.

 

2.       Do not post or publish misleading reviews

Reviews that are presented by a business as impartial, but were actually written by the reviewed business, a business competing with the reviewed business, third persons paid to write a review when they have not used the product or service or someone who has used the product or service but who writes an inflated review because they have been provided with a financial (or any other) benefit, may mislead customers and therefore lead to a breach of Australian Consumer Law.

In the guide, the ACCC recommends removing any reviews which are known to be fake, biased or misleading.  From a practical perspective, we understand that removal of an existing review can be challenging and as such it is important to ensure that the way you and your business make reviews, elicit reviews or deal with reviews complies with the Australian Consumer Law and not in any way misleading or problematic.

 

3.       The omission or editing of reviews may be misleading

Although the ACCC recommends the removal of reviews that are fake or biased, the guide also indicates that the removal or editing of reviews, especially when this has an effect on the overall rating given by a review platform, may also lead to misleading conduct.

The ACCC has previously taken action against companies for posting fake or misleading customer reviews and testimonials, or even preventing customers from making reviews. For example, in the relatively recent decision of the Federal Court in the case ACCC v Meriton Apartments Pty Ltd [2017] FCA 1305, Meriton Apartments was found to have contravened the Australian Consumer Law.

In that case, Meriton had a relationship with TripAdvisor which involved sending the emails of their guests to TripAdvisor, which would then be used by TripAdvisor to send an email invitation to the guest to write a review about their stay. It was found that Meriton was inserting the letters “MSA” into the email addresses of guests who had made complaints about their stay, meaning they would never receive the email invitation from TripAdvisor. Not only were the wrong email addresses being “used”, Meriton withheld a number of emails during periods where there had been a major fault within the hotel, such as a hot water failure.

Meriton’s breach does not necessarily fall within the principles discussed in the guide, proving further how broad the Australian Consumer Law is.  The case is also illustrative that it is imperative that businesses are proactive in ensuring any reviews or testimonies published and relied on by consumers are not misleading or deceptive.

It is integral that as a business owner, you are aware of your obligations under Australian Consumer Law in relation to reviews by customers and particularly reviews that you request or that you yourself provide.

 

Coutts can assist your business and provide advice as to risks in reviews and your conduct under this body of legislation to ensure you have peace of mind that your business activities around reviews do not breach the requirements of consumer law.

For further information about reviews about your business or the Australian Consumer Law, please don’t hesitate to contact:

Keely Irving
Lawyer
keely@couttslegal.com.au
02 4607 2124