In the past week we have fielded many questions relating to the issue of standing down employees. This issue naturally arose last week with the Government announcing that Pubs, Clubs and Restaurants be closed and staff of these establishments were entitled to be stood down.
However, there were many other businesses which saw these staff being stood down and assumed that they had the right to do so as well. Many were under the misapprehension that if there was a slow down in trade that then gave right to a stand down. For example a manufacturing company was of the belief that the pandemic had resulted in less orders and therefore less work, so that they could stand down staff.
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.
If you stand down an employee without a legal right to do so and you don’t pay wages, you may effectively be dismissing the employee, or you may be required to make good any underpayment during the period of the stand down.
The Employer’s right to stand down an employee may be provided by an employment contract, an enterprise agreement or more likely, the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act).