Here are some answers to questions about how COVID-19 may be impacting co-operatives and incorporated associations.
Financial reporting requirements
Incorporated associations don’t have to apply for time extensions to hold 2020 annual general meetings (AGMs) or submit annual summaries of financial affairs.
Associations may conduct their 2020 AGM when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted or present 2020 financial information to members at the 2021 AGM.
Use of technology
Until 25 March 2021, associations may conduct committee meetings and general meetings using technology even if this isn’t stipulated in their constitutions.
Members must still be able to participate for an association to using technology, such as Zoom or Skype meetings.
Associations may also pass ordinary and special resolutions by either postal or electronic ballot even if this isn’t currently stipulated in their constitution.
The postal or electronic ballot must be conducted in accordance with Schedule 3 of the Associations Incorporation Regulation 2016.
Co-operatives don’t have to formally apply for time extensions to hold their AGM and lodge the annual return/report. This arrangement is for 6 months, from 30 April 2020.
Co-operatives are expected to take steps to meet their statutory obligations as soon as practical after restrictions are lifted.
Where a co-operative can lodge its annual return/report with Fair Trading within 5 months after the end of its financial year it should do so even if an AGM hasn’t been held.
Frequently asked questions
What temporary relief is being provided for financially distressed co-operatives and incorporated associations?
Fair Trading won’t commence any action against management committee members or board directors where there are financial difficulties because of COVID-19.
This temporary relief does not apply to cases of dishonesty and fraud, or where an association has acted to secure financial gain for members.
We won't act in relation to debts incurred, which are likely to result in insolvency, in the ordinary course of a co-operative or association’s activities where those debts may be necessary (for example in relation to employee expenses).
This is similar to measures implemented by ASIC.
If you’re having trouble complying with legislation because of COVID-19, we’ll consider what help we can provide.
Can an incorporated association refund member fees if it is unable to operate during the COVID-19 shut down?
If members have paid fees for activities, such as playing sport, and that activity can’t proceed as a result of COVID-19, refunds can be paid.
What eligibility criteria is there for NSW co-operatives applying for JobKeeper payments? Is an ABN enough?
Fair Trading isn’t able to provide any advice on eligibility criteria for JobKeeper payments, as this isn’t within our administration of co-operatives’ legislation.
Individual co-operatives should seek advice from their accountant or other relevant professional for their circumstances.