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July 2016 Minimum Wage Increase

The Fair Work Commission has recently announced an increase of 2.4% to the National Minimum Wage.  The 2.4% increase will be payable from the first full pay period on or after 1 July 2016.
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As of the 1st of January 2016, Vic Roads is offering a 50% discount on 12-month vehicle registrations for eligible trade apprentices. That means a possible saving of up to $385.70! However, the following criterion needs to be met:

  • You must be registered as an apprentice with the Victorian Registrations Qualification Authority (VRQA) in an eligible course
  • The vehicle needs to be registered in your own name (motorcycles, trailers and mobile plant are excluded)
  • Not already have a concession applied to the vehicle(except for discounts for hybrid and electric passenger vehicles)
  • The vehicle must be used for work purposes, including travelling to multiple and varied work sites (this does not include commuting or travel to and from a single work site)
  • You must hold a current drivers license
  • Not already have a trade apprentice discount applied on another vehicle

Once you have received your renewal notice, you will be able to apply online or in store at Vic Roads where you will have to provide them with your VRQA registration number, vehicle registration number and driver's license number. Vic Roads will also verify with your employer that the vehicle is used for work purposes. 

Restart Wage Subsidy

Restart $10,000 Government Wage Subsidies

If you are employing or looking to employ mature aged staff on a full time or permanent part time basis you may be eligible for government assistance of up to $10,000 over a two year period.

The restart program is designed to deliver support to employers who employ mature age job seekers being 50 years of age and over and at the same time will assist mature age job seekers to re-enter the workforce.

In light of Australia's ageing population and the need to become a more productive nation, the contribution of older workers is becoming more crucial to the workplace. When older Australians lose their jobs, they remain unemployed for a much longer period than younger job seekers often because they face significant barriers to finding work.

Restart has been funded for $524.8 million over four years is expected to encourage business owners to give mature workers a chance.


An eligible job seeker is someone who:

  • Is 50 years of age or older;
  • Has been unemployed for six months or more and has been in receipt of any of the following income support payments for six months or more:

Newstart Allowance; Parenting Payment; Disability Support Pension; Bereavement Allowance; Widow Allowance; Carer Payment; Special Benefit; Partner Service Pensioners; War Widows; Age Pension; Mature Age Partner Allowance; Wife Pension; Widows B Pension;

  • Does not have any outstanding workers' compensation claims against the employer; and
  • Is not an immediate family member of the employer.

How to get started


Applications for restart wage subsidy can now be accessed online by visiting

Job Seekers

Job seekers can register with job agencies who are registered providers of the program. To find a provider in your area visit



Apprenticeships - Trade Support Loans

You may have missed it in the news recently, but on the 17th of July the new Trade Support Loans Bill was passed through both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

What does this mean?

Eligible apprentices can now access Trade Support Loans of up to $20,000 over the course of their apprenticeship.

The loans assist apprentices with everyday living costs while they complete their apprenticeship, and will replace the 'Tools for your Trade' Grants which were scrapped on 30th June 2013. Similar to the previous scheme, the loan income is able to be used for any purpose suitable to the apprentice's needs.

The programme provides apprentices with up to a $20,000 paid monthly in arrears adding to;

Year 1 - Up to $8,000

Year 2 - Up to $6,000

Year 3 - Up to $4,000

Year 4 - Up to $2,000

How does it work?

The Trade Support Loans will work similar to the Government HECS/HELP Debt scheme, being repaid by the individual through the taxation system when the minimum income threshold is reached; in 2014-15 the minimum repayment occurs at $53,345.

The notable difference is that unlike the indexation on HECS/HELP Debt which is set to be changed to the Government Bond interest rate and caped at 6% p.a. as of 2016, Trade support loans will be indexed from the 1 July 2017 in line with the much lower consumer price index (CPI).

Another feature of the Trade Support loans is that apprentices who successfully complete their apprenticeship receive a 20 percent discount on the balance of their loan, effectively meaning that the amount borrowed will be reduced by 20 percent.

Follow this link to find a list of Trade Support Loans eligible apprenticeships.

How do I apply?

Apprentices can apply for the loan through Australian Apprenticeships Centres -  Murray Mallee Training and MEGT Apprenticeship Centre located in Swan Hill. Once the application is complete, apprentices can then choose to opt-in every 6 months, and can opt out at anytime.

 For more information on trade support loans or if you would like to discuss whether they are right for your situation, call 5032 9422 and book an appointment today.

Employee V Contractor Demystified

Often an individual may believe they are a contractor due to their engagement with an organisation being through the use of their ABN.

Equally a manager may presume the use of invoices for the receipt of income by an individual classifies them as a contractor. Although forming a portion of the framework these two assumptions do not by any means rule out the possibility that the individual is an employee in disguise.

Some factors that characterise an individual as an employee include:

Control over work â€" Does the organisation control the way the work is performed?

Work unable to be subcontracted â€" does the individual have the ability to subcontract or delegate work?

Commercial risk â€" Is the individual exempt from commercial risk? ie. is not responsible to rectify any defect in work or pay to have any defect rectified.

 Independence â€" Does the individual work within the organisation or are they considered separate to it?

Equipment & tools â€" Is the individual supplied with the tools required to carry out their duties?

An organisation may choose to engage individuals as contractors to save on such things as payroll tax and work cover. Once deemed as an employee however these individuals may be eligible for all entitlements reserved for wage-earners. The organisation may be required to foot the bill for the individual's superannuation guarantee payments, PAYG tax and annual & sick leave (if applicable).

The good news is that the ATO has provided a calculator to help in determining the basis of an individual's engagement Click Here For Access


From the desk of Doug Balcam.

Contractors Vs Employees

The ATO have signalled an intention to target employers who hire workers as contractors even though they are legally their employee.

We have experienced first hand the wrath of the ATO when it comes to this matter, having dealt with one recent audit in this area. 

The ATO argue that employers are engaging full time contractors in an attempt to avoid paying tax and superannuation, and annual and sick leave entitlements.

Contractors who invoice based on hours worked are to be particularly wary.  Not supplying materials for set jobs, an in some cases not using their own tools only add fuel to the fire that they are in fact an employee. 

The ATO argue that if a contractor is engaged, they should be contracted for a specific job/task, including the provision of materials and the responsibility to rectify defects.

In several cases, the ATO has forced employers to pay 9% superannuation in addition to the amount already paid to these contractors which they ATO deed to be employees.

One measure introduced by the ATO in the building and construction industry from 1 July 2012 is that an annual report will need to be lodged by the business operator specifically identifying every contractor used during the year.  Details required to be reported include on each contractor include:

·         Contractors ABN

·         Name

·         Address

·         Gross amount paid

·         Total GST

This report will provide the ATO with a reliable database whereby they will know which businesses to target.  

Beware,if you get a questionnaire in this field, its not random.  The ATO's data matching has found anomalies in your reporting and are confident they will find something.

In addition to the above, the industries being targeted for unpaid superannuation include all trades, cafes and restaurants, while also targeting the cash economy in these fields also.

The extent the ATO are willing to go in the Cafe industry involves ATO auditors going back to wholesalers, determining how much coffee a business has acquired, and determining how many cups they should have produced and at what price, and attempting to match this to sales.

Want to improve your cashflow??? 

Budgets are a great way to improve and monitor your business cashflow during the year. 

Now is the ideal time to get your budget prepared for the new financial year. 

Read more…

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