Last updated: 26 July 2021 3:22 PM
Below is a summary of employer obligations during lockdown. We will update this page as new information is available.
This is general advice. If you want information specific to your circumstances or have any questions regarding this please contact us on (02) 9981 3137 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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From 12.01 am Monday, 19 July, until 11.59 pm Friday, 30 July all construction sites and maintenance activities in Greater Sydney area must close unless it is:
- necessary to deal with environmental risks, secure the site or maintain critical equipment
- to maintain public utilities
- necessary to maintain the safe operation of transport infrastructure
- a construction site necessary for NSW Health in response to the COVID-19 pandemic
- an emergency
The sudden lockdown has left many employers wondering about their obligations to their employees.
This two week lockdown is an enforceable government issued directive, so the business may be able to use the ‘stand-down’ provisions under the Fair Work Act.
As this was not at the discretion of the business employees can be put on Stand Down (no pay) if there are no alternative role which allows the employee to be usefully employed, even from another location.
What is a stand down?
Under section 524 of the Fair Work Act, an employer can stand down an employee without pay where they can’t usefully be employed because of a stoppage of work for any cause for which the employer can’t reasonably be held responsible.
Employees who are stood down without pay are still employed for the period of the stand down. Leave entitlements still accrue while an employee is stood down and it counts towards employees service. Casual employees are not covered by the Stand Down provisions.
To stand down an employee using these provisions, an employer needs to be able to show that:
- there is a stoppage of work
- the employee to be stood down can’t usefully be employed because of the stoppage (this isn’t limited to the work an employee
- usually performs)
- the cause of the stoppage must be one that the employer can’t reasonably be held responsible for.
Employers generally can’t stand down employees under the Fair Work Act stand down provisions simply because of a deterioration of business conditions or because an employee has coronavirus.
Checklist for managing employees & payments during lockdown
Use the Fairwork Checklist
- Can the employee work from home? If you can find suitable duties that can be done from home which usefully engage the employee, then this is the preferred option. The employee is paid their wages as normal.
- Can duties be changed or hours changed to keep the employee working (and this needs to be from home). If this is the case then consult with your employees about these types of changes.
- If hours are reduced and the employees don’t have leave accrued or they are casual employees they may be entitled to claim the Covid-19 disaster payments.
- Annual leave is not included in the assessment for Covid Disaster payments.
To consider: Maintaining your employee numbers as at 13 July 2021 is required to qualify for both the Business & Job Saver Grant.
Communicating with employees
- Get in touch with all employees who are impacted by the restrictions and notify them of the business closure.
- Whilst shut down provisions under the Act only apply for permanent employees, you should still consult with all your workforce regarding the closure.
- All changes and agreements are to be in writing.
- Fairwork have a standard template you can use for employees. If you need any other templates, just let us know.