COVID-19 resources

If you are unsure how to handle a matter concerning COVID-19, you can contact MIPS for clinico-legal advice and support on 1800 061 113. See how MIPS is assisting members during COVID-19.

Government, AHPRA and industry updates

  • Australian Government Department of Health: Health alert, Coronavirus App, WhatsApp Channel, News and Resources
  • 1800 020 080 National Coronavirus Helpline (24/7)
  • State Government health department updates ACTNSWNTQLDSATASVIC and WA
  • AHPRA and National Boards updates
  • Refer to your college for craft specific guidance (eg RACGPACRRMRACS, ADA)
  • COVID-19 telehealth MBS items (RACGP pdf document)

Telehealth

On 28 July 2020, the Department of Health launched a Telehealth Items Guide to provide answers for questions commonly asked by healthcare practitioners about recent changes to MBS telehealth items in response to the outbreak of COVID-19 in Australia.

MIPS encourages members who provide telehealth services to review the guideline closely to ensure they comply with AHPRA’s advice.

The recent expansion of Telehealth in Australia due to the outbreak of COVID-19 does not obviate the need for a face to face in person consult when a physical/direct examination is pivotal to support clinical decision making. See our telehealth FAQs for further information.

FAQs

Does MIPS' indemnity policy cover telehealth?

Yes, MIPS Membership benefits (including insurance covers) extend to technology based health services subject to the following guidelines:

  • You and the patient are located in Australia
  • Your practice is in accordance with AHPRA's and specialist colleges' requirements, guidelines and advice. See Telehealth FAQs
  • You hold current AHPRA healthcare practitioner registration
  • You have appropriate training, experience and qualifications for the healthcare activities undertaken by you
  • You have an appropriate MIPS membership classification for the healthcare activities undertaken by you

If you do not meet the above or have a query about telehealth and the services you provide, complete a Practice Assessment Questionnaire for individual assessment.

What are the temporary MBS telehealth items for COVID-19?

To limit the outbreak of Covid-19, new temporary MBS telehealth items have been introduced to ensure continued access to essential Medicare rebated consultation services. As of 30 March 2020, these items have become more general in nature. Updated details and lists can be found at MBS Online.

The numbers have been expanded to allow bulk-billed telehealth (phone or video) consultations by practitioners for ALL Australians where it is safe and clinically appropriate to do so. Effective 6 April, the Federal Government has changed the Australian COVID-19 telehealth legislation to allow for limited mixed-billing. From 20 April, specialists non GP providers are no longer required to bulk bill these new telehealth items. See ‘Can I apply my usual billing practices’ below. Criteria apply. For up to date details see the MBS online.

What are the restrictions to MBS telehealth items from 20 July 2020?

From 20 July 2020, MBS telehealth items were restricted to cases where there is an existing therapeutic relationship between a General Practitioner and a patient. This change applies everywhere in Australia, except Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire in Victoria, currently under stage three restriction orders. Consultations with infants under 12 months of age, or with people who are homeless, will be exempt.

A therapeutic relationship is defined as seeing the same GP or another GP at the same practice, in person, within the last 12 months prior to the date of the telehealth consultation.

These restrictions will apply to all temporary GP telehealth items introduced in March 2020 under the Government’s COVID-19 response measures. Restrictions to items for other specialists and allied health providers have not been confirmed at the time of this update.

Can I apply my usual billing practices?

Effective 6 April, the Federal Government has changed the Australian COVID-19 telehealth legislation to allow for limited mixed-billing. Telehealth services must be bulk billed for Commonwealth concession card holders, children under 16 years old, and patients who are more vulnerable to COVID-19. See the MBS Online. From 20 April, specialists non GP providers are no longer required to bulk bill these new telehealth items.

Otherwise members can apply their usual billing practices to the telehealth items for patients who do not meet these criteria. The usual requirement to obtain informed consent remains and, in particular, an informed financial consent. Members would be aware that a person who is at risk of COVID-19 virus means a person who:

is required to self-isolate or self-quarantine in accordance with guidance issued by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee in relation to COVID-19; or

  • is at least 70 years old; or
  • if the person identifies as being of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent—is at least 50 years old; or
  • is pregnant; or
  • is the parent of a child aged under 12 months; or
  • is being treated for a chronic health condition; or
  • is immune compromised; or
  • meets the current national triage protocol criteria for suspected COVID-19 infection.

What insurance cover do I need to treat COVID-19 public patients in private hospitals?

The Federal Government has announced that in conjunction with Commonwealth, State and Territory Health Ministers, private hospitals will support the COVID-19 response by providing hospital services and staff for public patients. For the most part the State and Territory governments would normally indemnify public patient healthcare. Members should check closely and be aware of the indemnity in place for the work to be undertaken.

If members are being asked to undertake different work (or sign a contract to undertake work) the following actions should be taken.

  • Confirm that your contract of employment clearly defines whether your employer is providing you indemnity or not
  • Ensure that your current MIPS membership classification accurately reflects the healthcare you provide, whether your indemnity is covered by the employer or not.

If you are not indemnified by the state, the hospital or another insurer, you need to declare to MIPS your non-employer indemnified (ie private) billings and/or salary for this work.

If a member is undertaking non employer indemnified work, MIPS does not differentiate between practice undertaken in a private setting and practice undertaken in a public setting. From MIPS's perspective there is, however, an assumption that members who provide services to public patients will do so with the same level of professionalism as if those patients were regular private patients. The responsibility for the provision of health services and period of ongoing care, monitoring, treatment and need for follow up remains with the practitioner/s that treat a patient unless appropriate transfer of care is undertaken.

Can I update my membership to change my membership fee?

You may be practising less or substantially changing your practice. This may change your risk profile and the applicable membership fee.

What if I have difficulty paying my MIPS membership?

We appreciate that some practitioners may be concerned about upcoming financial commitments. MIPS renewal documentation will be issued in May, one option available to members is to pay your membership fee by instalments at no additional cost. In the event you require assistance with your repayments, MIPS will consider any request for temporary financial hardship in a fair and appropriate manner. Complete a Financial Hardship Request form.


Extension of COVID-19 Temporary MBS Telehealth Services

Temporary MBS telehealth items have been made available until 31 March 2021 to help reduce the risk of community transmission of COVID-19 and provide protection for patients and health care providers. A telehealth consultation may only be provided where it is safe and clinically appropriate to do so.

Who can access the extended temporary MBS Telehealth Services?

The temporary MBS telehealth items are available to GPs, medical practitioners, specialists, consultant physicians and dental practitioners in the practice of oral and maxillofacial surgery

The temporary MBS telehealth items are available to GPs, medical practitioners, specialists, consultant physicians and dental practitioners in the practice of oral and maxillofacial surgery

What are the legal requirements for the purpose of eligibility to deliver technology mediated consultations through a practice?

It is a legislative requirement that GPs and Other Medical Practitioners (OMPs) working in general practice can only perform a telehealth or telephone service where they have an established clinical relationship with the patient. The MBS states that a patient who has seen any other health professional at your practice for a face-to-face service in the past year is also eligible for the telehealth items. There are limited exemptions to this requirement.

What are the exemptions to the above requirement?

As recently advised by the RACGP, exemptions apply for:

  • people receiving the telehealth service from a GP at an Aboriginal Medical Service or an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service
  • infants (under 12 months old)
  • people experiencing homelessness

people subject to restrictions on movement due to COVID-These people will be able to access telehealth services at any general practice regardless of whether they have visited a GP or practice within the last 12 months.

In addition, based on advice provided by the Department of Health, the new restrictions do not apply to:

  • urgent after-hours attendances during unsociable hours (items 92210 and 92216, equivalents to item 599)
  • GP obstetric services (items 91850-91853 and 91855-91858, equivalents to items 16400, 16407-16408 and 16500)
  • allied health services provided on behalf of a GP (items 93200-93203, equivalents to items 10987 and 10997).

The RACGP is not aware of any other exceptions. Telehealth items already available prior to COVID-19 are unaffected.

Who is eligible for MBS incentive payments?

GP and OMP COVID-19 telehealth services are eligible for MBS incentive payments when provided as bulk billed services to Commonwealth concession card holders and children under 16 years of age.

When will GPs no longer be required to bulk bill telehealth services?

The temporary GP and OMP bulk billing incentive items for patients who are vulnerable to COVID-19 and the temporary doubling of all Medicare bulk-billing incentive fees ceased as of 01 October 2020.

Where can I find advice for general issues about COVID-19 telehealth items?

On 28 July 2020, the Department of Health launched a Telehealth Items Guide to provide answers for questions commonly asked by healthcare practitioners about recent changes to MBS telehealth items in response to the outbreak of COVID-19 in Australia.

MIPS encourages members who provide telehealth services to review the guideline closely to ensure they comply with AHPRA’s advice.

The recent expansion of Telehealth in Australia due to the outbreak of COVID-19 does not obviate the need for a face to face in person consult when a physical/direct examination is pivotal to support clinical decision making. 

Where can I find more information on the latest MBS Telehealth items updates?

The RACGP released a COVID-19 telehealth MBS items updated guide on September 2020 which can be found here.

All factsheets on the use of the temporary MBS telehealth and phone consultation item numbers can be found here.


Dealing with patients requesting medical exemption to mandatory mask laws

Updated 28 September 2020

The recent rise in community transmission of COVID-19 in Australia means some states and territories now recommend or require the use of masks. Currently this includes Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.

What are the recent changes to mask laws in Victoria?

From 28 September 2020, the rules for face masks usage will be strengthened. According to the State Premier, it is now mandatory for Victorians to wear a properly fitted face mask in public, which covers the nose and mouth. Wearing a scarf, a bandana, or a face shield on its own is not enough under the new rules.

Can I still wear a plastic face shield in Victoria?

As advised by the Premier of Victoria, people may still wear a face shield to cover the eye area, but this would need to be accompanied by a properly fitted mask that covers the nose and mouth.

What are the current face mask guidelines for NSW and QLD?

Wearing a face mask in not mandatory in NSW. However, NSW Health advises the public to wear a mask in the following circumstances:

  • When you cannot physically distance
  • When in high-risk indoor areas (public transport, ride share, taxis, supermarkets, shops, places of worship and entertainment venues)
  • If symptoms develop while out of home
  • When caring or serving vulnerable people
  • If working in a cafe, restaurant, pub, club or other high-risk indoor areas

In QLD, QLD Health advises the public that face masks may be required in the following circumstances:

  • You may have to wear a mask in Queensland when:
  • When entering a hospital
  • When visiting a residential aged care facility in a restricted area
  • When visiting a disability accommodation service in a restricted area
  • When your doctor or nurse has told you to
  • When you are expecting to get tested for COVID-19.

Where can I find further information about face mask guidelines across Australia?

What should you do if asked to write an exemption certificate?

If a request for documentation exempting the patient from wearing a mask is requested, then a member should preferably arrange to consult with the patient via telehealth or in person.

What details should be provided to the patient?

In all cases MIPS believe that the practitioner should carefully explain the medical rationale behind mandatory mask wearing, especially detailing that masks may prevent the patient from transmitting COVID-19 to others whilst asymptomatic. This discussion should be comprehensibly documented in the patient’s medical records.

Where can I obtain further details about the DHHS recommendations?

Practitioners may wish to refer (and possibly direct their patients) to the DHHS website. Among other information, the website details the DHHS recommendations when a face covering is not required.

A face covering is not required in the following circumstances:

  • Infants and children under the age of 12 years.
  • A person who is affected by a relevant medical condition – including problems with their breathing, a serious skin condition on the face, a disability or a mental health condition. This also includes persons who are communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.
  • Persons for whom wearing a face covering would create a risk to that person’s health and safety related to their work, as determined through OH&S guidelines.
  • Persons whose professions require clear enunciation or visibility of their mouth. This includes teaching or live broadcasting.
  • Professional sportspeople when training or competing.
  • When the individual is doing any exercise or physical activity where they are out of breath or puffing, examples include jogging or running but not walking. You must have a face covering on you and wear it when you finish exercising.
  • When directed by police to remove the face covering to ascertain identity.
  • The person is travelling in a vehicle by themselves or with other members of their household.
  • When consuming food, drink, medication or when smoking or vaping.
  • When asked to remove a face covering to ascertain identity, for example at a bank branch or bottle shop.
  • When undergoing dental treatment or other medical care to the extent that the procedure requires that no face covering may be worn.
  • During emergencies.

What is ‘a relevant medical condition’?

The severity of a relevant medical condition that is enough to provide a clinically appropriate exemption is open to interpretation. For instance, a MIPS clinician may not consider it appropriate to provide an exemption for an asthmatic patient who has not used a preventer for two years. Interestingly, recent media reports suggest that Lung Foundation Australia’s COVID-19 Expert Group has advised people with asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) to wear a face covering if at all possible. They suggest patients try wearing a mask at home, for increasing periods of time, to get used to the effects.

The medical literature acknowledges that for some patients with respiratory conditions, wearing a face mask may cause further difficulty in breathing and recommends choosing a mask type that is easy to breathe, depending on the respiratory condition (Kim, 2020). The DHHS acknowledges that whilst a mask with three layers is the ideal option, any face mask or covering is better than none. This includes a scarf, bandana or face shield.

Will MIPS support members who either decline or agree to provide a certificate of exemption?

MIPS advice is that members should encourage patients to comply with the mandatory mask laws wherever possible. Ultimately the decision whether to issue an exemption certificate is a clinical decision and MIPS would support our members in their considered judgement. Practitioners should be aware that any clinical decisions may ultimately be peer reviewed and should be justifiable. To this end it may be preferable to discuss any possible exemptions with the patient’s other providers or a colleague.

Is there a certificate template?

The RACGP has developed a letter template for GPs to use. The College encourages practitioners to use these templates sensibly, as with all medical certification. The document may be tailored to suit the needs of each individual practice and patients.


Elective surgery and dental procedures

Updated 28 September 2020

From 28 September 2020 dental practices across Victoria, including metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria (including the Shire of Mitchell), will move to Level 1 restrictions with a COVIDSafe plan in place. Victorian dentists can now recommence non-urgent services and are encouraged to assess the COVID-19 risk for each patient before treatment using clinical and epidemiological risk factors, using the Level 1 Decision Tree and ADA Dental restrictions guidelines.

As metropolitan Melbourne enters the Second step restrictions on the COVID-19 roadmap to reopening, effective 28 September elective surgery across Melbourne will resume at a hospital capacity of 75% of pre-pandemic levels (provided that COVID-19 case numbers remain low).

Elective surgery in regional Victoria will resume up to 85% of pre-pandemic capacity as of 28 September 2020.

What are the recommendations for Level 1 restrictions in regional Victoria?

On September 16, 2020, regional Victoria moved to the Third Stage in the Victorian Roadmap, and thus, practitioners must operate under ‘Restricted Guidelines’. While these guidelines are not dental-specific, dental practices must comply with them.

What is the advice for dental practices in areas where there are outbreaks of COVID-19?

Dentists in areas of isolated outbreaks, such as Colac, should exercise caution and consider practising at Level 2 restrictions until the outbreak has been managed. Practitioners in these locations should continue to monitor the number of cases in their local area and practice at a higher level of restrictions if they feel that is appropriate.

Are face masks mandatory for patients attending dental clinics?

It is mandatory for people in metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria to wear face coverings when leaving their home, unless an exemption applies. Dentists should enforce this requirement for patients in their dental practice and can refuse entry to the practice for patients who are not wearing a face covering. This requirement should be communicated to patients when making or confirming appointments.

What is the advice for managing urgent dental treatment for confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients or those in quarantine?

Dental Health Services Victoria advises that urgent treatment for confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases should be managed in an acute hospital with an OMFS registrar. These include:

  • The Royal Melbourne Hospital
  • Austin Hospital
  • Dandenong Hospital
  • Monash Medical Centre
  • St Vincent’s Hospital
  • University Hospital Geelong – Barwon
  • Footscray Hospital – Western Health
  • The Royal Children’s Hospital

Where can I find more information?

The ADA Victorian branch has compiled the current information about COVID-19, restrictions, and what they mean for dental practices here. Information about the COVID-19 roadmap for reopening can be accessed here, Second step restrictions across metropolitan Melbourne can be found here and Third step restrictions for regional Victoria are available here.

What level of restrictions is in place in the rest of the country?

As of August 2020, dental practices outside Victoria remain at a mandated minimum of Level 1 restrictions.

Does my practice need a COVID Safe plan under Stage 4 restrictions?

Yes, the DHHS has mandated that COVID-Safe Plans for permitted workplaces must be put in place across all Victoria, not just areas operating under Stage 4 restrictions (Metropolitan Melbourne). Every employer in Victoria must have a COVID Safe Plan in place for their workplace by 11.59pm on 7 August 2020. The only exception applies to small businesses with less than five employees.

  • This requirement includes employers within the healthcare and social assistance sectors.
  • While workplaces are required to have a COVID Safe Plan, it is not a requirement to use the COVID Safe Plan template.
  • Workplaces do not have to lodge their COVID Safe Plan with the Victorian Government. However, you may be required to provide your COVID Safe Plan to DHHS or WorkSafe upon request or in the event of a confirmed positive case at your workplace.
  • The COVID Safe Plan template, guidance on how to prepare your COVID Safe Plan, and additional employer obligations for workplaces that remain open under the Stage 4 restrictions can be found here.

The directive to reduce work across multiple sites does not apply to health care workers. Therefore, dental staff can continue to operate across multiple practices.


Practice and employee FAQs

What should I do if I, or one of my staff, might have COVID-19?

You should check the most recent Government update. The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) has recommendations for health and aged-care workers. You should not go to work if you have respiratory/influenza like illness or meet the criteria for self-isolation or quarantine. MIPS suggests you check current recommendations.

There are no AHPPC work restrictions on healthcare workers who are casual contacts of COVID-19 patients and are well, including those who have provided direct care for confirmed cases with adequate personal protective equipment. In this instance, healthcare workers are advised to self-monitor for symptoms and self-isolate if they become unwell until COVID-19 is excluded.

If my staff are self-isolating do I need to continue to pay them?

This a complex legal area and the answer may vary depending on any awards employees may fall under or their employment contact conditions. MIPS’ advice is the self-isolation in accordance with Department of Health advice should be considered sick-leave, however, if the employee is well then a work-from home arrangement can be put in place if viable. Compensation does not apply to contractors.

Do I have to pay my staff if I am forced to close my practice?

If you are forced to close your practice for valid reasons such as a COVID-19 infection/s, fire, flood, or breakdown of critical equipment, you can stand down employees who are unable to do useful work. You can only do this in certain circumstances. See Fairwork guidance. You do not need to pay an employee during a stand down. It may be better to consider offering employees the chance to take paid leave.

If I close my practice what do AHPRA require me to do?

In the code of conduct of the Medical Board at 3.15 and the Dental Board at 3.16 , it states when closing or relocating your practice, good medical practice involves giving advance notice where this is possible and facilitating arrangements for the continuing medical care of all your current patients, including the transfer or appropriate management of all patient records. You must follow the law governing health records in your jurisdiction. See also Retiring or ceasing your practice in Australia or the checklist in How to: Retiring from healthcare practice.


Financial wellbeing
Program updates July 2020

What are the updates to the JobKeeper program announced on July 2020?

On 21 July 2020, the Australian Government announced the extension of JobKeeper payments until 28 March 2021. The initiative seeks to support businesses and not-for-profits who continue to be significantly affected by the outbreak of COVID-19.

The existing JobKeeper payment will remain in place until 27 September 2020.From 28 September 2020, payments will be targeted to businesses and not-for-profits that have been most significantly affected. In addition, the payment rates will decrease,and two tiers of payment will be introduced.

Further information about the operation of the JobKeeper Payment Program is available on the ATO website.

How do these updates affect my practice?

If your practice currently receives JobKeeper payments, it remains unchanged and payments are available until 27 September 2020. 

From 28 September 2020, your business or not-for-profit will be required to reassess its eligibility for the JobKeeper extension with reference to their actual turnover, in order to continue receiving payments.

This JobKeeper extension will be available to qualifying businesses and not-for-profits from 28 September 2020 until 28 March 2021.

What are the conditions to receive the JobKeeper extension payments after 28 September 2020?

In order to receive the JobKeeper payments after 28 September 2020, your business or organisation must demonstrate:

  • Decline in turnover – still 30% or greater (compared to 2019 equivalents).
  • Decline needs to be re-assessed – actual decline in June 2020 and September 2020 quarters to get JobKeeper between 28 September 2020 –03 January 2021.
  • Decline needs to be re-assessed again – actual decline in June 2020, September 2020 and December 2020 quarters to get JobKeeper between 04 January 2021 – 28 March 2021.

How much will I get with the JobKeeper extension payments after 28 September 2020?

28 September 2020 – 03 January 2021:

  • $1,200 per “eligible employee” who worked at least 20 hours in February 2020.
  • $750 per other “eligible employee”.
  • Payments to be made per fortnight.

04 January 2021 – 28 March 2021:

  • $1,000 per “eligible employee” who worked at least 20 hours in February 2020.
  • $650 per other “eligible employee”.
  • Payments to be made per fortnight.

What is Cash Flow Boost support?

The Temporary cash flow boost seeks to support small and medium businesses and not-for-profit organizations during the economic crisis due to the outbreak of COVID-19. The support is available for businesses and not-for-profit organisations who employ staff and will receive between $20,000 to $100,000 in cash flow boost amounts by lodging their activity statements up to the month or quarter of September 2020.

What are the conditions to be eligible for the Cash Flow Boost support?

Your practice must demonstrate:

  • Turnover up to $50 million.
  • Carrying-on a business.
  • ABN on 12 March 2020.
  • Payments to employees subject to withholding tax (even if nil).

What will my business receive with the Cash Flow Boost support?

  • Minimum $10,000 (twice) = $20,000
  • Maximum $50,000 (twice) = $100,000
  • Tax-free payment.
  • Credits/Refunds applied automatically via BAS process.

What additional national wide options of financial support are available?

  1. Instant Asset Write Off

    The Instant Asset Write Off was expanded in March to support businesses through the outbreak of COVID-19. From 12 March 2020 until 31 December 2020, this initiative provides immediate deduction per depreciating asset used for business under the following conditions:

    • Threshold for each asset increased to $150,000 (up from $30,000).
    • Eligibility has been expanded to cover businesses with an aggregated turnover of less than $500 million (up from $50 million).
  2. Early Release Superannuation

    Eligible citizens and permanent residents of Australia or New Zealand can apply to access up to $10,000 of their super in the 2020-21 financial year. To qualify, individuals must be unemployed, receiving certain Government income support payments and on or after 01 January 2020they must:

    • have been made redundant.
    • have their hours reduced by 20%.
    • have experienced a business turnover reduced by 20% (sole trader).

    Eligible individuals can access tax-free payments from superannuation of:

    • $10,000 before 30 June 2020 (closed).
    • $10,000 between 01 July 2020 and 24 September 2020.

    You need to check the eligibility criteria before you apply for COVID-19 early release of superannuation and keep records that demonstrate your eligibility. Apply to the ATO via the myGov website

What State specific support initiatives are available?

The following initiatives are administered by each States. Refer to your relevant State website for details.

  1. Payroll Tax Relief

    Businesses with annual Victorian taxable wages up to $3 million are eligible to receive the Payroll tax relief for the 2019-20 financial year waived.Eligible businesses can claim an emergency tax relief refund of payroll tax already paid in the 2019-20 financial year via PTX Express.

  2. Land Tax Relief

    • Must be impacted by COVID-19 and may receive:
      • Payment deferral
      • Rebate / Refund
    • Must pass on relief to tenant (via rent reduction).
    • Refer relevant State website for details.
  3. State Grants in NSW

    • Small Business Grant to safely reopen and upscale (e.g., fit-outs, staff training, etc.).
    • $500 - $3,000 in payments.
    • Highly impacted industries.
    • Open until 16 August 2020.
  4. State Grants in QLD

What additional support initiatives are available through the Banking industry?

Relief available to Businesses and Households may help you to defer loan payments under the following conditions:

  • Originally for six months (automatic).
  • Extended by four months (not automatic).
  • Interest will continue to accrue.
  • Government backed lending.

MIPS encourages you to speak to your current banking contact to implement available measures for your individual circumstances.


JobKeeper FAQs

What is the JobKeeper Payment?

JobKeeper is a wage subsidy payment provided by the government to help employers retain employees during COVID-19.

The JobKeeper Payment is $1,500 per fortnight (before tax) for each eligible employee to subsidise the eligible employee’s wages.

The JobKeeper Payment is only available from 30 March 2020 to 27 September 2020 to eligible employers who have elected to participate in the scheme.

As an employer am I eligible to receive the JobKeeper Payment?

Australian healthcare practices, including companies, partnerships, trusts and sole traders, not-for-profit entities and charities, are eligible if they meet the following criteria:

  • have business turnover of less than $1 billion (for income tax purposes) which has been reduced, or is likely to be reduced by more than 30% (of at least a month) compared to a period a year; or
  • have business turnover of $1 billion or more (for income tax purposes) which has been reduced or is likely to be reduced by more than 50% (of at least one month) compared to a period a year.

If you are an eligible healthcare practice and you have stood down employees after 1 March 2020, you can claim the JobKeeper Payment for those employees, if they are eligible employees. To be eligible to receive the payment for these employees, you will need to pay them a minimum of $1,500 per fortnight (before tax) for the JobKeeper Payment periods.

Eligible healthcare practices must register online with the ATO for the JobKeeper Payment on behalf of their eligible and nominated employees (including themselves) and provide monthly updates to the ATO.

As an employee am I eligible to receive the JobKeeper Payment?

If you are employed by an eligible healthcare practice, you will be considered as an eligible employee if you:

  • were employed by your employer at 1 March 2020
  • are currently employed by the employer (including if you are stood down or re-hired)
  • are full-time or part-time (including fixed term), long-term casual (a casual employed on a regular and systemic basis for longer than 12 months as at 1 March 2020 and not a permanent employee of any other employer) or a sole trader
  • are at least 18 years of age on 1 March 2020
  • are 16 or 17 years of age on 1 March 2020 and are independent or not undertaking full time study;
  • are an Australian citizen, the holder of a permanent visa, a protected special category visa, a non-protected special category visa who has been residing continually in Australia for 10 years or more, or a special category (subclass 444) visa holder
  • were an Australian resident for tax purposes on 1 March 2020
  • are not receiving government paid parental leave, ‘dad and partner pay’, or payment under workers’ compensation law for total incapacity to work, and
  • are not receiving the JobKeeper Payment from another employer.

For more information see the JobKeeper Payment advice for employees

I am an employer who receives JobKeeper Payments for my employees. When do I have to pay my employees?

You must pay the minimum $1,500 per fortnight (before tax) to each eligible employee to claim the JobKeeper payment for that fortnight.

You should pay your employees for each JobKeeper fortnight for which you plan to claim the payment. The first fortnight was from 30 March 2020 to 12 April 2020 and each JobKeeper fortnight follows after that.

I am an employer who is receiving the JobKeeper Payment for my employees. I want my employees to perform other duties and/or work from a different location. Can I do this?

On 9 April 2020, temporary changes were made to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (Act) which apply to employers receiving the JobKeeper Payment for their eligible employees. The temporary changes remain in place until 28 September 2020.

The temporary changes to the Act provide increased flexibility for employers to give directions to employees who are receiving the JobKeeper Payment, including for stand down, changes to duties and location of work, changes to days or times that work is performed and/or the taking of annual leave by the employee, including at half pay.

Yes, you are able to direct your employees who are receiving the JobKeeper Payment to perform other duties and/or to work at a different location– provided that you consult with your employee prior to giving the direction, and provided that you give them at least three days written notice of your intention to give the direction. A shorter notice period may apply if your employee genuinely agrees to a shorter notice period.

If you direct your employee to perform other duties, the duties must be reasonable and within the scope of healthcare practice operations, and within the employee’s scope of practice, skill and competency.The employee must also have any relevant licence or qualification required to perform the duties.

If you ask your employee to work from a different location, including the employee’s home, you need to ensure that alternate location is suitable for the employee’s duties. The direction must not require the employee to travel an unreasonable distance.

I am an employee who is receiving the JobKeeper Payment and my employer has notified me that my hours will be reduced. Are they allowed to reduce my hours?

The temporary changes to the Act noted above allow your employer to direct you:

  • not to work on a day you would usually work,
  • to work for a lesser period on a day, or
  • to work a reduced number of hours overall (which can be nil).

Your employer can only give you the direction if you cannot be usefully employed for your normal days or hours because of changes to the healthcare practice that are linked to COVID-19 or linked to government initiatives introduced to deal with COVID-19 pandemic.

Your employer must consult with you prior to the direction taking effect and provide you with at least three days written notice of their intention to give the direction. A short notice period may apply if you genuinely agree to a shorter notice period.

I am an employer who is receiving the JobKeeper Payment for my employees. I have reduced my employees’ hours. How much do I have to pay them?

This question will differ for each individual employee and it is recommended that you seek independent advice in relation to individual circumstances.

However, as a general rule:

  • You must comply with the JobKeeper Payment rules and pay the minimum $1,500 per fortnight (before tax) to each eligible employee, even if your employee currently earns less than $1,500 per fortnight (before tax).
  • If your employee is currently earning above $1,500 per fortnight (before tax) even with the reduced hours, you must top up the difference so that your employee receives their full entitled amount for all hours worked.
  • You must not vary your employee’s hourly rate of pay in accordance with any relevant contract of employment, Modern Award or Enterprise agreement.

I am an employer who is receiving the JobKeeper Payment for my employees. Do I have to pay superannuation on the whole JobKeeper Payment amount?

If your employee is paid more than $1,500 per fortnight, your superannuation obligations will not change.

If you are topping up your employee’s wages to $1,500 per fortnight by the JobKeeper Payment, it will be up to you if you want to pay superannuation on any additional wages paid by the JobKeeper Payment.


Patient FAQs

Can I refuse to see patients with respiratory conditions?

Yes, you can refuse to treat a patient, except in an emergency or within your Emergency Department practice The AHPRA code of conduct advises that a “patient should not be denied care, if reasonable steps can be taken to keep you and your staff safe.” It is MIPS advice that if a patient cannot be seen then they should at least be provided with advice as to how to seek alternative help Lack of appropriate PPE may be a reason for not treating a patient in the current climate. If you cannot adequately protect yourself or you know you are vulnerable, then MIPS recommends you refer the patient to a more appropriate environment where they can be examined safely.

Members can choose to end a doctor-patient relationship, for example where the patient is aggressive, has been forging certificates or consistently fails to follow medical advice. Appropriate measure should be put in place to ensure continuity of care.

Can I give a COVID-19 patient a medical certificate to return to work?

If the patient has returned a negative test, or is not exhibiting any symptoms and or has appropriately self-isolated in accordance with Department of Health advice if necessary then a carefully worded letter of support can be issued stating that the patient has told you this is the case.

What do I do if a patient demands testing or refuses to be tested?

Patients can’t demand that doctors undertake testing. This is a clinical decision based on the circumstances of each patient and the guidelines for testing and available resources at the time.

If you have first-hand knowledge of patients refusing to be tested, isolate or lying about travel, you should contact your state or territory Department of Health and document accordingly. Various State and Territory penalties are now in place for the offending individuals and companies.

Can I prescribe Hydroxychloroquine due to COVID-19?

This drug may be effective against COVID-19 (still unproven) and to avoid shortages the federal Department of Health have restricted the medical practitioners who are authorised to prescribe it.

Only AHPRA recognised specialists in dermatology, intensive care medicine, paediatrics, child health, emergency medicine or a physician may prescribe Hydroxychloroquine to new patients as part of an initial treatment plan. Following this, patients can then attend upon their general practitioners for ongoing prescription of Hydroxychloroquine or medicines containing the substance.


Returning to practise

If I return to practise during the COVID-19 pandemic, what indemnity insurance do I need?

AHPRA requires a professional indemnity insurance arrangement for all practitioners including those returning through the Pandemic Response Sub Register. If you are returning to the public sector, your employer will most likely cover you. Have this confirmed in writing. If you are returning to private practice, you will need to arrange your own cover which you can with MIPS. Both scenarios require a change of your MIPS membership to a practising classification. Please advise us by completing a Return to Practise form. Further details about the Sub Register from AHPRA.

Do I lose my run-off cover if I return to practise?

AHPRA clearly state “The Commonwealth Government has confirmed that if you were covered by the Commonwealth Run-off Cover Scheme (ROCS) and you return to the workforce to support healthcare initiatives for COVID-19, you will continue to be covered by ROCS for claims that may arise in relation to your prior medical practice before you retired. You will still need to ensure you are insured for medical services you provide once you return to practise.” In such circumstances, should you return to practise, your ROCS cover for past practice through MIPS remains unchanged.

The Department of Health states: "The Amending Regulations amend the Medical Indemnity Regulations 2003 by inserting a temporary exemption that applies to any practitioner who is eligible for the ROCS and who returns to private practice. This temporary exemption allows retired doctors to return to private practice in order to provide treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic without the practitioner losing their eligibility under the ROCS. The exemption operates on the basis that these practitioners have the requisite registration to practice, and only applies on a temporary basis for the duration of the declaration of the Human Biosecurity Emergency Declaration and a grace period of one further month."

I want to return to work and do more than COVID-19 related work?

Your circumstances will need to individually assessed by MIPS. Please complete the Practice Assessment Questionnaire.


Student

I'm a medical student performing a role to assist with COVID-19, what insurance do I need?

MIPS' free student membership classification is appropriate if you are performing a role to assist with COVID-19:

  • Where the role is employer indemnified (ie the hospital agrees to provide cover)
  • irrespective of whether the role is volunteer or paid

As with all membership you must have appropriate training and experience for the healthcare services you provide including appropriate supervision (a registered healthcare practitioner). If you are undertaking a role that doesn't meet these guidelines, refer to placements for further information or complete a Student Placements, Healthcare Activities form for assessment.


Dental

Does my MIPS membership cover teledentsitry?

Yes, teledentistry is another form of telehealth. See our telehealth FAQs.

In its 6.28 Teledentistry Position Statement, the ADA supported the further development of teledentistry and teleradiology services and recommended these should be monitored and assessed as they are put into effect in Australia. A summary of the main recommendations for its implementation is given below.

There is no explicit statement from the Dental Board or ADA that limits or prohibits any particular aspect of the teledentistry in response to the outbreak of COVID-19. Before deciding to carry out a procedure in person, eg after a teledentistry diagnostic evaluation, members should give full consideration to the current requirements of the Australian Government , regulators and your associated professional association, taking full account of the level 2 restrictions outlined in the ADA guidelines.


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The materials provided are for educational purposes only. Whilst all reasonable care has been taken in preparing these materials, including the accuracy of the information supplied, MIPS does not accept any liability whatsoever arising out of the use or reliance of the information provided. Contact MIPS 24/7 Clinico-Legal Support 1800 061 113 or education@mips.com.au for specific advice.