What Does “Stand Down” Mean?
The ability for an employee to stand down your employment under the Fair Work Act without pay is limited to the circumstances where your employer’s operations have entirely shut down.
The only people that can operate that provision right now are the employers that have caught up in the non-essential services that have been shut down by the government and there’s no ability for you to do your job at home.
If you are caught up in those group of workers, then your employer is entitled to rely on the unpaid stand-down positions in the Fair Work Act. You should first check your employment contract or any enterprise agreement that covers your employment which deals with the shutdown.
If your employer just had a decline in revenue as a consequence of COVID-19, then they can only negotiate with you a temporary reduction in pay or salary.
An employer cannot rely on the stand down provision if business is still operating or because their revenue has dropped.
Key Tips for Employees
Some employers are being opportunistic and hiding behind the veil of COVID-19. They may say that their business suffering a loss because of COVID-19, your job is at risk and we may need to make your job redundant.
Firstly, if you’re in an essential service or if there’s a job where there’s government funding, you should question whether there’s been a reduction in the business’s revenue. Should your job’s hours simply be reduced? Are you able to negotiate a pay cut?
Secondly, before you accept an unpaid stand down, you need to ask if your employer is legitimately suffering. If they are, then do your best and cooperate with this unpaid stand down. It would be much better to go on a period of unpaid stand-down and retain your right to return to the role than it would be to lose it altogether.
Thirdly, if you are asked to be made redundant, you need to check if that it is a genuine redundancy. Just because COVID-19 is happening doesn’t mean you are exempt from unfair dismissal laws.
Need personalised advice over the phone about your employment situation because of COVID-19? Book an appointment with us today.