Impact of COVID-19 on Australian businesses - part one

A person researching on a laptop with the report on the screen

This story was first published on Tuesday 21 April 2020. If you wish to use this content, please contact to confirm that the information is still current.

The Department of Education, Skills and Employment has released a report on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on Australian businesses.

The first instalment of the Impact of COVID-19 on Businesses report is based on a telephone survey of more than 250 businesses between 27 March and 3 April 2020.

The results show that the COVID-19 crisis is affecting the majority of businesses with the demand for their goods and services and cash flow considerably reduced. Consequently, many businesses reported they have reduced staff hours or let staff go.

Some 58 per cent of businesses reported that COVID-19 had affected their business ‘a great deal’ with another 22 per cent reporting it affected their business ‘somewhat’.

The most commonly reported impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic were a lower demand for goods and services (67 per cent of impacted businesses), cash flow issues (37 per cent) and having to change business practices (33 per cent).

Nearly one-third (30 per cent) of businesses have reduced staff since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some 28 per cent of businesses expected to reduce staff in the coming months, while 22 per cent stated they were ‘unsure’ of how they expected their staffing levels to change.

Action taken by businesses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic include developing new rules and procedures such as more frequent cleaning schedules, or requiring staff to use hand sanitiser (68 per cent of impacted businesses), providing staff with medical equipment such as masks and gloves (48 per cent), and reducing staff hours (45 per cent).

Some 32 per cent of impacted businesses had let staff go. Of these, 67 per cent reported that they planned to rehire all their existing staff, while a further 14 per cent planned to rehire some of their existing staff.

The report will be updated weekly on the Labour Market Information Portal.

Australian Government support for businesses, employees and job seekers

The Australian Government has announced a suite of measures to support businesses, employees and job seekers during the COVID-19 pandemic, including:

  • JobKeeper payment to allow businesses to continue to pay their employees
  • Temporary cash flow support for small and medium businesses
  • Wage subsidies for employers of apprentices and trainees
  • Temporary relief for financially distressed businesses
  • Relief for commercial and residential tenants
  • Increased income support
  • Lifting of mutual obligation requirements for job seekers until 27 April
  • Early access to superannuation
  • Additional assistance for regions and industries most affected by COVID-19

More information

From the Newsroom


Correct at time of publication.