As of 30/6/06, the NSW State Government has forced small businesses with under $200,000 wages per year to change to a new agency for workers compensation insurance chosen by WorkCover NSW, not the company being insured. After 1 year they can change to one of their own choice. This will introduce a degree of non-competitiveness with fulfilling insurance claims and managing clients instead of rewarding better performing insurers. This will lead to higher overheads in keeping our workers safe and cared for due to bureaucratic choices rather than market driven choices for a company like ours in a very competitive industry.
The massive swapping of small businesses with wages under $200,000 per year to new players in the workers compensation field has caused huge backlogs. In May 2006, the company we deal through was getting 800 calls/day and had to move to bigger premises. Phones were ringing out and not being answered due to the overload.
Who knows how Cambridge Australia (now Xchanging) won the tender when they were so under-resourced? It turns out they were moving premises in April/May and upgrading their computer systems, all with no information to their customers. Email is the best way to get through to them.
This is what happened due to a bulk movement of customers to a new player and no resources being available to cope with the demand. Small businesses are left waiting for hours or days to get through by phone. It would have been wiser to use the Internet to allow customers to update their contact details or upload forms such as wage declarations or pay their workers compensation premium via secure payment over the Internet using BPay, direct transfer or credit card. American outsourcing companies that have entered the NSW workers compensation market are seizing on opportunities to make a quick buck but are not investing in the local economy.
The NSW Minister for Small Business does not have control over this. The NSW Minister for Commerce does but seems to be pushing small businesses through the hoops to recoup costs from workers compensation rorting by tricky workers. Small businesses are paying for bigger companies' inefficiences.
Luckily Campbell resigned from NSW Cabinet in 2010 to free the position up for a better person.
Write to your local paper if this affects you. This does more good than going through politicians or bureaucrats that have vested interests in maintaining the status quo.
On 19 April 2007, we swapped back to QBE after the year expired and how happy we are now! All the dead wood is behind us now and no more badgering by a difficult department like WorkCover NSW to wear us down any more to fit in and put up with a pathetic company like Cambridge because the law said so!! 'The Law is an ass.' Freedom is a great feeling in a business. Cambridge as usual made things difficult by sending requests for actual wages twice due to a computer stuff up. We are glad not to deal any more with Cambridge.
Many others have left Cambridge for a better resourced insurer due to the badly handled tender to Cambridge by WorkCover NSW. WorkCover NSW and Cambridge were very difficult to get any answer from - stoney silence. This is very poor management in my opinion, ignoring the problem and hoping it will go away rather than reacting and overcoming it.
The current ALP NSW Government was not kicked out in the latest election on 24/3/07 but was in March 2011 and this kind of bungling not removed or remedied yet (2011) so it is up to individual businesses to adjust the best they can by changing insurers after the first year of hell. Cambridge did not have the resources for a massive swap and WorkCover NSW did not want to acknowledge the problem so we the little companies suffered. We fight back by moving back to a better resourced company like QBE and stop this nightmare of bungled tenders.
This is the one of the biggest rorts I've seen and smacks of complete arrogance of the NSW State Government over its citizens, the attitude of 'we know better' and 'take your medicine'. No way, not this little brown duck! We believe in choice and a listening ear or we punish the supplier by taking our business elsewhere.
From 30.06.2008, Workcover NSW has a $7500 wages threshold for taking out a workers compensation policy. Policies taken out in error cannot get a refund. We are cancelling QBE from December 2009. Minimum premium is $175.
In March 2012, I met Yasmin King, the new NSW Small Business Commissioner, at Orange at DPI offices - very level-headed government official.
In May 2013, NSW Government has legislated Small Business Commissioner Bill 2013. This forces government and big busineses not to crush small businesses.
For premiums 2013-14, NSW Government also gave incentives for paying Work Cover ontime (5% discount) and keeping injuries down and return to work under 13 weeks (10% discount) and reduced premiums by 7.5% in 2013, all good news! See Premium rate reductions fact sheet 3998.
See letter from Small Business Commissioner, Yasmin King, dated 2 May 2013.
On 27/3/06, the Australian Government introduced legislation that will force incorporated entities (Pty Ltd) to:
Following its 2012 Annual Wage Review, Fair Work Australia has increased minimum weekly wages by 2.9%. This increases the national minimum wage to $606.40 per week, or $15.96 per hour for employees not covered by an award or agreement. see more
This will put pressure on small companies like ours to tighten controls through our project management system on bad customers trying to get lower prices, use smarter technology and outsource non-essential jobs. Managing labour costs will be essential to remain competitive.
If you run a company as working director, obviously you cannot make a claim against yourself as it would be self-defeating so this is a special case. The company must be profitable to survive.
Contractors, which is what we are, are special as they work for an amount for a specified result to be delivered at an agreed deadline using their own tools and being required to repair any problems instead of for wages so they can earn large amounts. The trade-off is there are gaps between jobs where the money has to last. As a result hourly rate and hours per week worked are averaged over a year to smooth out the peaks and troughs that come about from such unpredictable work. So there are inherent risks as well as rewards in contracting.
To reduce overheads and risks, we never hired anyone but outsource nearly everything. Australia has such a bad reputation for industrial disputes that I avoided it altogether by not hiring anyone but myself in the company making us very nimble and not bogged down by wage disputes. There are no layoffs in bad times. Being the owner, we never sack ourselves, so there is job security while profitable. We just relocate, change product or service and use technology to cope, making us very nimble, agile and able to survive better.
On 28 March 2008, the Rudd Labor Government rescinded the WorkChoices legislation and stopped further Australian Workplace Agreements from being created.
If you are a company, you can have your books inspected to see if you meet the pay/time data requirements. Paying PAYG creates data for pay. Time records are collected from timesheets. It is hard for contractors who work for a set amount and have to monitor their own hours. Often contractors are confused with self-employed people who are sole-traders. A company, even if it has 1 staff and 1 director (the same person), must comply. It is legal to have a company with 1 director. It is a microbusiness. That requires a lot of logging and data entry to collect all the pay/time data and keep it available at the fingertips for sudden government inspection. Bookkeeping is an increasing cost for small businesses and contractors like ourselves. We just do it ourselves to save employing an accountant or bookkeeper but it is tedious and detailed work that pulls us away from doing our job. It must be done though.
"Generally, company directors are not considered employees for the purposes of the Workplace Relations Act 1996 and its Regulations 2006, therefore as an employer you have an obligation to ensure you are complying with the act in relation to those who would (under the Act) be regarded as employees (but not for yourself)." (19/1/07)
This was a complete fizzer.
The Workplace Relations Regulations 2006 repeal and replace the Workplace Relations Regulations 1996 to accommodate the WorkChoices amendments to the Workplace Relations Act 1996 introduced on 27 March 2006.
On 30 May 2011, the Australian Assistant Treasurer the Hon Bill Shorten MP, Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation, released a Consultation Paper into Reporting of Taxable Payments for Contractors in the Building and Construction Industry. This would create more paperwork for contractors which would require them to modernise and use Web-based accounting systems to remain viable and to comply with ATO tax law re paying tax due, like we did in 2010 due to a computer crash and allows us to do our ATO BAS and Company Tax anywhere there is internet access.
State and Federal Contracts require $10,000,000 public liability cover which costs $7500 to $10,000 per annum, despite if we got the tender or not. This is way out of the reach of a small business like ours.
To afford this, we would have to have $50,000 turnover or more per year, a long way to go. This allows multinationals to blossom and small Australian companies to waste away. Another solution is to form a consortium to group together risks and have one umbrella insurance policy. The amount of administration to achieve these kind of government contracts bogs down our business pushing us away.
AIIA is pushing for limited liability on smaller jobs rather than unlimited liabilitiy which costs so much to insure, to make going for such tenders viable. Our government badly needs overhauling in its dealing with small business contracts.
If you put in a Statement of Liquidated Claim and the Defendant seeks to pay by instalments, they can pay any amount per week, fortnight or month so it can get down to $25/fortnight for up to 2 years. This will wear the plaintiff down till they give in and enter notice of discontinuance letting the defendant off and the plaintiff paying all the costs - a dead loss - instead of banking endless small cheques to get paid a small amount. Administration kills these kind of claims. Cutting losses stops the rorting and keeps the business still viable instead of being bogged down by administration for little value to the business. We are giving up on country clients as they are generally slow payers and difficult to get to pay and try to do more than they can afford so tend to bring down the creditor who is subcontracting to them unless the creditor kicks the debtor off by writing off the loss.
We decided in January 2008 to not pursue claims against slow payers or bad debtors through the courts as most times the person owing money never pays or gets off on a loophole just holding up valuable resources. So I just ring them up and eventually get money that way. The law is an ass. It pays the government not to close its loopholes as the more debtors there are, the more fees the courts make chasing them down and they get the fees no matter if the money is retrieved or not. The system is a complete failure for small businesses in my opinion. Don't waste your time in the courts pursuing small businesses. It is 99% a waste of time and money.
The Rudd (now Gillard) Labor Government in 2009 is giving more power to the debtor than the creditor by allowing more leniency on repaying bad debts which leaves the creditor scrambling for other sources of income while they wait for the debtor to come good!
In 2010, it cost $80/3 years to have a Working with Children Check via the NSW Police as a one-person business is classified as self-employed, making teaching violin to children on my own unviable. A company of 2 or more staff has a free check. This is way too expensive. Working through a local school requires being hired as a casual teacher.
This group is a source of government IT equipment procurement contracts and industrial relations information.
Before 2011, Labour Hire Contractors in Riverland, South Australia were using a loophole on Harvest Trail to list unvetted dodgy jobs where the staff, usually backpackers, were not paid or paid very little plus the dodgy labour hire contractors received Australian Government subsidies for bringing workers into the area. This was shutdown by the Government by vetting all ads on Harvest Trail to make sure the labour hire contractors were legimate and were paying their staff before allowing ads to be listed. These dodgy labour hire companies were preying on people from outside the area and backpackers and ripping their pay off and not providing group certificates to allow the workers to claim their tax back except through a statutory declaration. The labour hire contractors survived because farmers liked the low rates and did not vet them to see if they were paying their staff or not.
In February 2012, Shadow Minister for Agriculture, John Cobb, gives feedback as to why antidumping laws will protect agricultural jobs and the Australian economy from predatory companies offshore who drop prices to get market share then raise them when local companies have gone bust.
The same holds true for cheap IT developers offshore, e.g. in India, who undercut local developers sending them broke or crippling them. Internet development is very competitive and other countries undercut each other to win business using exchange rate, local wages and opensource software and operating systems to reduce costs and be more agile like we do.
In AFR 10-11 March 2012, the Australian Government streamlined 457 Visa holders seeking permanent residency by not having them resit tests.
This will lead to more immigrants and more competition for jobs. Locals stand to lose unless they rise to the occasion and create their own jobs.
This supports big business who only want to hire but not train new staff. Big business want the ceiling for 457 visas raised to 190,000 per year which would put pressure on local businesses. We are small and have to invest in our training to remain viable.
USA has tougher laws blocking migrants becoming permanent residents to protect jobs. We need to follow USA on this and not bow to big business who want quick profits rather than long term education and building up Australian workers. Australia for too long has cut corners on education and brought immigrant workers in rather than train locals which takes longer but is better for the country.
The alternative is a Banana Repubic where we use our resources to pay for immigrants to service our country. This is not healthy but with Australian Governments not willing to get the education system right, there will be a huge opportunity for skilled immigrants to take well paying jobs from less-trained locals.
Australian ALP Government got the 30% minerals resource rent tax (MRRT) through Senate in 19 March 2012 which will start on 1 July 2012. Mining companies (BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Xstrata have been making huge profits in the past 2 or 3 years from the huge growth in China of mineral processing plants and middle class economy (cars, houses, gadgets). This will aid small business (under $5M/yr turnover) with company tax of 29% (down %1).
ALP Government is doing strides to help the underdog. Liberal Party blocks anything where money is redistributed to the rest of the economy from a select few very wealthy individuals and companies. As Obama said, the trickle down effect of rich people passing on wealth is a myth. They just hoard the money so government intervention in the form of a resources tax was necessary to make Australia more equitable.
In March 2012, Exetel Pty Ltd announced it would unilaterally reduce agents' commission from 7.5% to 3% from 1 May 2012. ISP Agents Talk Forum was setup by agents to fight back against the injustice of Exetel underpricing its products so taking an axe to commission to pay for it.
Mention was made of a 1987 High Court decision with NSW Coal Association that showed management could not cut basic rights of a worker:
No doubt our traditional system of industrial conciliation and arbitration has itself contributed to a growing recognition that management and labour have a mutual interest in many aspects of the operation of a business enterprise. Many management decisions, once viewed as the sole prerogative of management, are now correctly seen as directly affecting the relationship of employer and employee and constituting an "industrial matter".
In April 2012, Exetel Pty Ltd made agents get bigger orders and also improved commission for 1 short-term service.
After much debate in 2011, the National School Chaplaincy and Student Welfare Program is being extended by the ALP Government in 2012. This is a breakthrough for commonsense and will help the mental and social health of teenagers when they are most vulnerable and prevent suicides.
Multi-level companies that pay commission to agents then feed back money into a common pool to grow company bigger. These companies do not pay their bills on time.
In June 2012, newspaper owners like Fairfax are closing paper publication units and going totally online with pay walls to generate revenue to counter falling paper sales. Australian Government is heralding tightening up laws for cross media ownership including digital media making publishers panic that the Government is restricting freedom of speech.
Since about 2005, traditional newspapers have lost heavily in classifieds to Google, other search engines and Facebook social media online advertising.
Amazon Web Services and other cloud providers are heralding a major move to the Web for online publications and ebooks so that small bloggers can compete head on with large newspaper empires for journalistic content.
Since the advent of the Apple iPad in 2010, online newspapers have taken off over paper editions.
Telcos have to warn customers when they are nearing their cap to avoid unaffordable cost blowouts.
Because of these problems, NSW Government is not keen to invest in mobile technology. ERG has created the usual fear and loathing about hitech projects.
The mining sector is growing much stronger than manufacturing which needs to replace old staid work practices with agile and lean methodology.
In 2011, Australian Government banned live export of cattle from Australia to Indonesia due to cruelty to animals which grossly affected cattle farms' sales forcing them to leave cattle ready for slaughter in Australia losing money as stock died. Greens influenced ALP to block live exports till Indonesia caught up with stunning pre-slaughter.
This should lead to Canberra directly funding Local Governments on infrastructure projects but not block state-local government relations. This would be a huge breakthrough as state governments usually favour capital cities and ignore country areas but with Canberra funding local government country and city councils would be supported equally by Canberra not lopsided like currently via state governments who favour where the most votes are and not the obvious need of country areas over city areas.
Aboriginal issues are going to be central in 2013 election.
Deposit or withdraw small amounts to keep accounts active or Government will take it from May 2013.
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