When can an employee be stood down?

Employee at work with pen and paper

In our latest blog, we answer a topical question during the COVID-19 pandemic – when can an employee be stood down?

Under the Fair Work Act, an employer can stand down an employee without pay in certain circumstances if the employee cannot be otherwise usefully employed. This includes when it is for a reason the employer is not responsible for. Amendments made in early April enable employers who qualify for the JobKeeper scheme to temporarily stand down an employee or reduce their hours in certain circumstances if they meet the requirements.

What type of circumstances?

If a business has been forced to close due to an enforceable government restriction (such as the closing of businesses including gyms, some beauty services and cinemas) during the COVID-19 pandemic and the employees can’t work from elsewhere, this may be a reason where the employer could stand down staff.

Usefully employed?

The facts of each case are taken into consideration when determining whether the employee could have been otherwise usefully employed but ultimately, it means that there is no work for the employee to do in any location.

The employee is still employed by the business during the stand down period and will accrue their usual entitlements during this time. It’s important to remember that employment contracts, awards and other agreements can impose additional or other requirements for standing down staff.

Getting advice from an experienced legal professional can ensure you are aware of what rights and obligations you have as an employer or as an employee during COVID-19 and beyond. If you’d like some advice, please contact us.

*The legal information in this article is of a general nature only and not intended to be legal advice to rely upon

Walker PenderWhen can an employee be stood down?