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What the government’s deregulation package means for small business

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced a $134.6 million over four years deregulation package for small business in his May budget, on the back of billions of dollars being spent to help SMEs get back on track after being whacked by the pandemic.

What the government’s deregulation package means for small business
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  • Karen Tan
  • May 19, 2021
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The deregulation funding will go towards the government's new path to reduce red tape for businesses, to boost efficiencies and streamline processes.

It includes significant investment in regulatory technology (regtech) to help the smaller employers understand minimum terms and entitlements when hiring new employees, such as pay, hours of work, leave and rosters.

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Bruce Billson, applauded the initiative.

“The government investment in ‘regtech’ is a positive step towards making it easier for small businesses to pay wages and entitlements correctly and on time, recognising how much they value their team,” he said.

Mr Billson said small business owners are often hard-working, time-poor and don’t have the systems or resources at hand to deal with the important, but often arduous, compliance requirements.

“Research shows a small business hiring its first worker can spend up to 18 hours getting their head around awards, pay rates, tax, OH&S and record-keeping obligations,” he said. 

Small business tradespeople who want to tap in to the demand for their skills around the country have also been given a boost, with $11 million invested towards interstate recognition of trade licences.

From 1 July 2021, occupational licenses will not just be automatically valid for workers in their own state or territory, but also across other states and territories throughout the country.

This will assist a number of different worker occupations, including builders, plumbers, architects, real estate agents and security guards.

Workers will need to comply with local laws and regulations, and may need to notify regulators of their intention to work in their state ahead of time.

The nation-wide scheme is welcome news for the industry.

Also included in the budget are: 

  • $10.0 million over four years from 2021-22 to modernise business communication by amending legislation in the Treasury Portfolio to be technology neutral;
  • $10.0 million over four years from 2021-22 (and $1.2 million ongoing per year) to implement regulatory technology solutions to assist employers to interpret and comply with modern awards, and to explore and promote new ways of assisting employers through regulatory technology;
  • $7.2 million over three years from 2021-22 to invest in the improvement, maintenance and review of the Employment Contract Tool, which helps small business employers to make employment contracts that comply with workplace laws;
  • $3.9 million over two years from 2021-22 to enable reviews to increase the transparency and accountability of regulator cost recovery activities and reduce cost to business on an ongoing basis; and
  • $0.8 million (met from within the existing resources of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Attorney-General’s Department) to examine options to enable electronic document execution.
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