Responding to the potential business impacts of novel coronavirus (COVID-19)

COVID-19 is causing significant people, social and economic implications for organisations. This page provides information on how your organisation can respond.

The COVID-19 outbreak has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation, causing huge impact on people's lives, families and communities.

As the international response continues to develop, we know that organisations are facing significant challenges and need to respond rapidly. PwC is working together with a range of organisations across industries to help them during this difficult time.


Here are some key business areas commonly impacted by COVID-19 that our advisers can help you with.

Crisis planning

From our experience, a strongly developed crisis response capability is required to ensure the efficient management of incidents in order to minimise associated negative impacts, meet government priorities around maintenance and confidence, and to ensure the continued delivery of critical national infrastructure. Many organisations have these plans in place for the workplace and supply chain but COVID-19 has already unveiled flaws in some. Given the unknown variables surrounding the outbreak, it is important to review crisis and business continuity plans, develop different scenarios and put them to the test.

Effective communication

We are already starting to see mixed messaging on preventing the spread of the virus via the media and negativity across the general public towards others who are wrongly believed to have contracted the virus is becoming a regular news item. Proactive communication for all stakeholder groups, based on factual information, is essential to manage public perception of the outbreak, minimise misinformation and associated panic, and reduce the detrimental impact on the economy and individuals.


Whilst the priority remains human welfare, we are hearing about other employee challenges. Examples include establishing the tax position of people who are moving between countries on an emergency basis, through to companies having to plan on putting production lines on pause due to supply chain issues, with the associated potential impact of asking employees to temporarily stop work.

Supply chain

Where clients are reliant on supply chains in affected areas, rapidly depleting stock levels are becoming a significant risk and clients are working through strategies for alternative sourcing. In certain cases, clients are showing signs of distress and stakeholders (eg. lenders) are concerned about the future viability of the business. We are discussing different potential scenarios and what these mean for their operations, for example, as cases of viral transmission emerge in different territories.

Global mobility

With the cancellation of flight services, and people movements being restricted in some countries as a result of the COVID-19, employers who have a globally mobile workforce in the Asia Pacific need to consider; the impact of travel restrictions, tax residency status, taxation of employment income in Australia, Australian PAYG obligations and other employer obligations.

See live updates here.

Business continuation

Having a clearly defined plan in place to deal with an unforeseen crisis such as COVID-19 is a critical component to protecting the ongoing success and viability of your business. In situations such as this, protecting people should be the primary focus for businesses, however, cash flow is often the next most critical area.

We have outlined an approach that we recommend should be adopted by businesses to:

  • determine the potential impact of COVID-19 on your business; and then to
  • create an action plan to manage risk and keep business interruption to a minimum.

We recommend that all businesses likely to be affected by COVID-19 act without delay to assess the potential implications and develop a plan to mitigate risk and remain operational.

Read our five-stage approach to managing COVID-9 risk here.

Finance functionality

Businesses may need additional support for their finance functions as they weather the impacts of COVID-19, through either acting as a businesses finance function, or by supplementing existing finance teams to continue BAU activities including:

  • Payroll 

  • Supplier invoice processing and bank reconciliations

  • BAS/IAS lodgements

  • Budgeting and forecasting 

  • Income tax returns

  • Year-end management reports.

PwC Optimise leverages cutting edge technologies and our international network to help Australian and multinational businesses with their accounting, regulatory and compliance obligations. 

Reach out to our team to see how we can support your business.


As travel and immigration updates change, PwC’s immigration advisors have highlighted some considerations for your people and your business:

  • Do you have any Australian employees travelling overseas at the moment? 

  • Do you have any temporary visa holders travelling overseas at the moment? Are any of these Australian employees (i.e. Australian citizens or permanent residents) travelling with immediate family members on temporary visas? 

  • Do you have any temporary visa holders nearing their visa expiry date? 

  • Do you have any employees who are currently offshore and need to enter Australia by a specified date for visa purposes? 

See our recommendations and updates here.

Tax implications

There are a range of business continuity decisions around cash flow, workforce and their supply chain that businesses are making in response to COVID-19 that can trigger many tax compliance and tax governance considerations. 

  • Guidance on tax obligations and relief for businesses affected by COVID-19 here.
  • Read other possible tax implications for your business here.
  • See our latest TaxTalk Insights here.

Scenario planning

Management teams are under unprecedented pressure to urgently answer complex questions and finance teams need to be able to to reforecast cash flows and perform scenario analysis from internal and external stakeholders.

To do this our teams recommend taking these three questions to ensure your team can consider the impact of COVID-19 on their business:  

  • Can my forecasting tool suite answer the questions being asked?
  • Do my base assumptions reflect new realities and possibilities?
  • What happens if I pull the levers I have at my disposal?

See our full recommendations to forecast in the face of uncertainty here.



Contact us

Rick Crethar

Australian Global Crisis Centre Leader, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 2 8266 7809

Cassandra Michie

Partner, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 2 8266 2774

Simon Gillies

Partner, Management Consulting Leader, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 3 8603 0754

Stephen Longley

Partner, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 3 8603 3203

Sarah Butler

Partner, National Health Leader, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 2 8266 5091

Tom Bowden

Partner, Government and Public Sector, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 2 6271 3229

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