When Is It Acceptable To Stand Down Employees?

Due to COVID-19 standing employees down has become necessary for some employers. Standing down employees involves the employer requiring employees not to work, due to lack of work or enforceable direction.

For a stand down to be acceptable under the Fair Work Act 2009 it must meet the following requirements:

  • The employee cannot be usefully employed because of a stoppage of work
  • The employer cannot be held reasonably responsible for the stoppage of work
  • Any work that is performed must provide a net benefit to the employer
  • The ‘qualifying employer’ is using a JobKeeper enabling stand down direction under the new temporary JobKeeper changes to the Fair Work Act

It is important to note that a mere reduction in the volume or type of work available does not justify a stand-down. A recent Fair Work Commission case heard an employee challenge his stand down because he believed he could still be usefully employed through administrative and caretaker tasks at a Coral Princess Cruises. However, the Fair Work Commission decided that “work” in this case was the purpose for which the business traded, providing cruise holidays, and therefore caretaker tasks were not considered useful employment and did not provide a net benefit to Coral Princess Cruises. The Fair Work Commission decided that this was a reasonable action for the employer to take to protect their business.

Therefore, if there is insufficient work remaining in a role and an employee cannot be usefully employed to the net benefit of the company, or if the employer is receiving JobKeeper payments the employee can be stood down.

TIf you require assistance with stand-downs or other employment matters, contact ProcessWorx on (08) 9316 9896 or enquiries@processworx.com.au.

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Marisa Ross

HR Advisor

Marisa is an experienced and motivated HR professional with a strong HR generalist and business operations background with a focus on employee relations, performance management, leadership training & development, workers compensation & injury management, and employee retention. Marisa holds a Bachelor of Human Resource Management and a Bachelor of Behavioural Science with a minor in Counselling. Having worked in a variety of industries from SMEs to large blue-chip organisations, Marisa is passionate about enriching employee experience, employee retention, and building leadership capability in people management.

Aimee Grigson

Aimee Grigson

WHS Advisor

Aimee has a strong understanding of Workplace Health and Safety Legislation and standards and has extensive HSEQ experience in a number of industries. Aimee has a great ability to engage across all levels of organisation, including field teams, leadership and external stakeholders. Aimee ensures Health and Safety Management Systems are compliant to legislation, effectively implemented and understood by all. Aimee has a Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety and qualifications in auditing and incident investigations. Aimee is passionate about coaching and developing small businesses towards a positive safety culture.