Employers may be faced with a situation where they are required to temporarily shut their business as a result of a State or Federal Government lockdown to combat COIVD-19.
An employer is highly likely to be able to “stand down” their employees “without pay” if a temporary lockdown does occur.
What is a stand down?
Employers have the ability to unilaterally stand down employees without pay if they cannot be usefully employed due to “a stoppage of work for any reason the employer cannot reasonably be held responsible” such as a Government lockdown.
A stand down means that an employer does not have to make an employee redundant but rather “pauses” their employment.
Contracts of employment, modern awards or enterprise agreements may contain different stand down provisions so it is important to check these instruments before implementing a stand down.
Process to implement a stand down
The below outlines a recommended process to implement a stand down:
Step 1: Check any contract of employment, applicable modern award or enterprise agreement for specific stand down provisions;
Step 2: Draft a stand down letter;
Step 3: Meet and provide an employee with the stand down letter. Explore ways to mitigate the impacts such as taking annual leave, annual leave at half pay, long service, banked TOIL or RDOs;
Step 4: Keep in touch with the employee on stand down to check on their welfare and bring them back to work when they can be usefully employed;
How long can a stand down last?
There is no time limit on a stand down and advice should be sought if a stand down becomes prolonged;
Every situation is different and the above is provided as general guidance. Please do not hesitate to contact Zev Costi on 0433 876 233 or at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.