During the second half of March, the national employer association Ai Group asked its members how their businesses were responding to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Three questions were asked:
- What is the impact of COVID-19 on your workplace or business so far?
- What has been your response?
- What would help you manage your business response to COVID-19 (e.g. from Ai Group, government, community groups)?
In commenting on the survey Ai Group Chief Executive, Innes Willox, said: “Sales and orders are dropping. It’s got harder to break even and businesses are bracing for things to get worse before they get better.
“The longer this goes on the harder the rebuild will be. Clearly too, the broader the lockdown the greater the economic damage. As activity and cash flows dry up, many more businesses will have to make hard decisions on staff and investments.
“The impacts to date are uneven across industries and, so far, more businesses in the industrial sectors of the economy are holding up than in the hardest hit areas of the services sector such as hospitality, recreation services and of course tourism and education.
“The crisis is impacting large and small businesses alike. Targeting of relief measures to smaller and medium sized businesses is fair in many instances. However, for the JobKeeper measure and payroll tax relief, a rethink is warranted. Larger businesses are generally also large employers and their employees are no less vulnerable. Further, businesses of all sizes are linked to larger businesses through the networks of supply chains across the economy. It is no less critical for large businesses to stay afloat and keep employing people than it is for our SMEs.”