Millions of Australians are now working from home amid the COVID-19 pandemic but to individuals trying to adjust to the workspace in their home, it can be difficult.
Working from home during a circumstance as worrying and as unexpected as this one presents a whole new set of challenges – whether it is taking care of your children while trying to work at home, or the social loneliness without talking to your co-workers.
New strategies to help individuals who work from home
The Australian Government has implemented new strategies and schemes to assist the individuals working from home so it’s not as stressful. Claiming tax deductions for working from home is being made easier by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
They are introducing a new method which will allow individuals to claim 80 cents per hour for all their running expenses, (such as electricity, air conditioning and computer maintenance) rather than needing to calculate costs for specific expenses.
The change was applied on March 1st 2020 and will run through until the end of the end of the financial year being June 30th 2020, after which the ATO will review the arrangement for the next financial year as the coronavirus situation progresses.
“If you choose to use this shortcut method, all you need to do is keep a record of the hours you worked from home as evidence of your claim,” Assistant Commissioner Karen Foat said.
“We needed something to help people through this time to make it easier to work out how much they can claim.
“We think the 80 cents per hour method is much simpler for people. It’s quite generous and we envisage a lot of people will want to use that rate.”
What are the isolation rules in place per state?
There are also isolation rules in place over the country to assist with the control of the COVD-19 and keep individuals safe, however with several states have either gone further while others have opted not to follow the new recommendations.
These are the updated laws as of Tuesday 19th May and no new laws have been implemented or repealed.
New South Wales
As of Friday, 15th May, NSW started relaxing lockdown restrictions. Updated restrictions include:
- The number of visitors increased from two to five.
- Outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people are now allowed.
- Cafes and restaurants can now host up to 10 patrons, as long as they follow the four sq metres per person rule.
- Use of outdoor pools, gyms and play equipment is now permitted.
The full list can be found here.
As of Tuesday 12th of May, some restrictions were relaxed in Victoria. These include:
- Residents are now allowed up to five guests over.
- Groups of 10 will are now allowed to gather outside in activities that are non-contact sports.
- Weddings of up to 10 guests are now allowed.
- Indoor funerals of up to 20 guests and 30 if outdoor.
The full list can be found here.
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As of Saturday the 16th of May Queensland started easing restrictions with the federal government’s three-step plan, including:
- Gatherings of up to five people allowed in homes and 10 people in other places.
- People are now allowed to take day trips up to 150km within their regions and rural Australians are allowed to travel 500km within the outback.
- Weddings allowed 10 guests.
- Funerals indoors are allowed 20 guests and outdoors 30 guests.
- Beauty salons were allowed to open with a maximum of 20 people.
- Pubs, cafes and restaurants in regional or rural areas with no cases can now seat up to 20 people.
A full list can be found here.
From May 18th, Tasmania moved into stage one, allowing indoor and outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people, up to five visitors to a home, and up to 10 people inside restaurants, cafe and other venues.
From May 25th, primary school students will return to school, as well as year 11 and 12 students. From 9 June, high school students from year 7 to 10 will also return to school.
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From Monday the 18th of May WA restrictions were eased and restrictions on regional travel ‘zones’ were also relaxed. The following has changed:
- Indoor gathering limit doubled from 10 to 20 people.
- Cafes and restaurants – including dine-in services at pubs, clubs and casinos – allowed to seat 20 diners, as long as they follow the four sq metres per person rule
- Non-contact sport, outdoor and indoor fitness classes & public swimming pools allowed to reopen to up to 20 participants at a time.
- Weddings and funerals increased to 20 guests indoors and 30 guests outdoors.
- Travel to nearby regions allowed.
Australian Capital Territory
On Friday the 8th of May the ACT further eased restrictions and gatherings of up to 10 people indoors and outdoors are now allowed. In addition, restrictions were also eased to include weddings of 10 people (excluding person/s conducting ceremony) as well as indoor funerals of up to 20 people and outdoor funerals of up to 30 (excluding person’s conducting the service).
On Friday the 15th of May at 11.59 PM restrictions were then further eased to allow residents to visit restaurants and cafes, with these venues required to seat no more than 10 patrons at a time while maintaining 4 sq metre physical distancing.
On May 8th the NT began lifting restrictions to allow an unlimited number of people to attend weddings and funerals, provided physical distancing is observed.
From May 15th they also began to ease restrictions on some indoor activities, so long as they take less than two hours. These include:
- Going to the gym.
- Eating at a café or restaurant.
- Visiting a museum.
- Undergoing non-facial cosmetic procedures likes manicures or tanning.
- Bars were reopened but alcohol can only be served with a meal.
- Indoor weddings, funerals and religious activities are also allowed.
Since May 1st, NT residents have been allowed to use public swimming pools, go fishing with friends and play non-contact sports, visit waterparks as long as physical distancing is observed.
NT National parks are also open for camping, swimming and hiking.
NT require all people entering the state to undertake a 14-day quarantine.
SA has not formally lifted any physical distancing laws, the state never opted for the strict laws. Since Monday 11th May, outdoor dining at restaurants and cafes has recommenced for groups of up to 10 people.
Since May 8th where the state started stage one, funerals and weddings were now able to have 20 people indoors and 30 people outdoors.
Non-contact sport, house auctions and open inspections have also resumed. The state is also reopening university and TAFE tutorials, public libraries, pools, churches and community halls.
The SA government has also already also welcomed students back into classrooms for term two.
On-the-spot fines of $1,000 will only be applied for people gathering in groups larger than 10.
All people entering South Australia are required to undertake a 14-day quarantine.
- Working from home because of coronavirus? You’re now eligible for a new 80 cents per hour tax shortcut : https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-04-07/claiming-tax-deductions-for-working-from-home-coronavirus-ato/12128622
- Australia’s coronavirus social distancing rules explained: state by state guidelines : https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/apr/07/social-distancing-rules-australia-coronavirus-strict-new-laws-legal-illegal-state-physical-restrictions-guidelines-explained-nsw-victoria-qld-queensland-act-sa-wa-two-person-rule
Words by Ece Demir
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