Do you know how to manage employees in this situation?
Winter has arrived! Unpredictable weather may cause problems for your business if it is deemed too severe to work. For example, New South Wales was recently hit with destructive flooding, and although work conditions in other states were not affected, the upcoming months may be a different story.
Natural disasters, including floods, cyclones and bushfires, may cause you to stand down your employees. Severe weather conditions can make work unreasonable or unsafe for employees, which would force you to stand down your employees. A stand down can only occur when the conditions of the stand down are out of your control. As such, sending your employees home due to a lack of work is not a stand down. As an employer, you are not required to pay your employees during a stand down, but as a best practice tip we recommend exploring other options. For example, organising employees to work either from home or at another work site if it’s reasonable, or allowing employees to take annual leave if they have some accrued, are some alternatives you may wish to consider before choosing not to pay your employees for the stand down. If these options are not feasible, unpaid leave could be your only option.
An employee’s award or agreement may dictate the conditions of a stand down, and what constitutes ‘severe weather’. It is important to be aware of the conditions covering your employees, in order to ensure you are complying with Fair Work. Your organisation’s Human Resources and Occupation Safety and Health policies and procedures should guide you in your decisions regarding stand downs and the pay conditions they call for.
Hopefully we won’t have any need for this information in the near future, but it is always good to know for when the unexpected occurs!