The federal government needs to follow the lead of other countries and pay a wage subsidy to keep people employed, according to a union official.
In the UK, the government is subsiding 80 per cent of workers' wages, as long as employers keep them on the books.
Similar subsidies are also in operation in Germany, New Zealand and The Netherlands.
Speaking with a group of Wollongong business owners South Coast Labour Council secretary Arthur Rorris said that was all the proof the Morrison government should need.
"Do we really think that the English, the French, the Germans, the Danes, they've all got it wrong?" Mr Rorris asked.
So far the Morrison government has resisted calls for a subsidy, stating the existing mechanisms - like boosting Centrelink - are a better way to deal with the situation.
"We will not look at a UK-style system because in an Australian context that just wouldn't work," Finance Minister Mathias Cormann told Sky News on Friday.
He said the country was looking at six months of economic disruption from COVID-19, so support needed to get to people "as quickly as possible".
"If we came up with a completely different system, a completely different approach and had to start up a system from scratch it would take us way too long to get that into the community," he said.
Mr Rorris said paying the subsidy to employers would allow them to retain their employees to be able to get up and running quickly once the crisis eased.
"We need to get in a position now where we can press pause, not stop and eject," Mr Rorris said.
"We want to press pause so that when this is over we can press play again and the staff is already there.
"What we don't want to see after all this is businesses fail because they've lost their staff, their continuity and their customer base."
Partner at Morrison Law, Graeme Morrison said their cashflow had at least halved but they would continue to pay their staff "for the duration of the emergency".
He felt workers were the ones getting the short end of the stick.
"It appears to me that employees are the ones who are bearing the brunt of the government's actions," Mr Morrison said.
Daniel Sherley, owner of Debutante and Rookie Eatery, said he was planning to pay his employees wages for as long as he could but an 80 per cent subsidy would be "extremely helpful".
"It would provide a lot more certainty for people who have rent, mortgages and other things they need to pay for," Mr Sherley said.
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