By Jackson Russell
A Wallan gym has called for more support after being left out of the latest round of the State Government’s Business Support Fund grants.
As one of many businesses forced to close due to COVID-19 restrictions, Totally Fit Gym was able to access a $10,000 grant from the Business Support Fund during the first lockdown.
However, the gym has been excluded from the latest grants to help businesses through the second lockdown due to the added requirement of the business being registered with WorkCover.
Owner Kieran Atkin said because he and his partner were the only employees, they were not legally required to pay a WorkCover premium.
“We didn’t deem it necessary to pay WorkCover premiums, we pay for private insurance which covers us professionally, privately and publicly with insurance and indemnity,” he said.
“If any of our contractors injured themselves on our property, we would be covered and that’s essentially what WorkCover does so we didn’t think we needed to double up, but as a result that means we’re ineligible for government assistance, which I think is unfair.”
Mr Atkin said the business’ financial situation was starting to become ‘concerning’.
“Since March 23, it’s probably cost us $200,000 in turnover, essentially. We’ve spent $20,000 of my super plus $30,000 of our personal savings,” he said.
“We’ve been very lucky that we’ve got some generous members that have continued their direct debits but it’s just trickling in.
“We can’t sustain it for much longer than what this second lockdown is meant to go to.”
A State Government spokesperson said the Business Support Fund expansion program supported businesses who employed people and had been impacted by stage-three or stage-four restrictions.
“Eligible businesses must be registered with WorkSafe and provide a WorkCover Employee Number. The WorkCover Employee Number is used to verify that the business employs people and the location of their registered business operation,” the spokesperson said.
“All businesses that employ apprentices or pay more than $7500 in annual remuneration to employees are required, by law, to register for WorkCover insurance.”
Sole traders, individuals in partnerships and individual trustees of trusts that do not employ other people are not required, or able, to register for WorkCover because these businesses do not employ people. As such, they’re also ineligible for the Business Support Fund expansion program.
The Business Support Fund was launched in March, paying out $776 million to more than 77,000 Victorian businesses, while the expansion program opened in July to support businesses in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire that had returned to stage-three restrictions.