Millions of Australians have been stood down as a result of the coronavirus crisis, and subsequent shutdowns.
So, what are your rights and responsibilities if you have been stood down from employment?
When can you be stood down?
Your employer can stand you down temporarily if there is a stoppage of work because of reasons beyond their control.
For example, a natural disaster, or a government-ordered shutdown as a result of a pandemic.
A breakdown of machinery may also cause a lawful stand down, so long as your employer wasn’t responsible for the failure.
And as a result, you cannot be “usefully employed”.
When you are stood down, you stop working and you’re not paid, however, you are still employed by the business and have entitlements.
This means you still accrue annual leave.
“There must be a stoppage of work, not just a downturn in work,” says Miles Heffernan from My Private Union.
“We are hearing of cases where employers are using the coronavirus as an excuse to stand down workers, so they don’t have to pay them.
“If there has been no stoppage of work, then you cannot be legally stood down.”
Before you can be stood down, your employer must try to find useful work for you in the business.
However, that work must be within your skill-set, and it must relate directly to the business, however it can be in a different area.
In other words, if you work in an office, your employer cannot make you paint his house or help him build his backyard deck.
Being stood down does not mean that your role is redundant.
You are still employed, but you will not be paid during the stand down period – unless your employer is receiving the JobKeeper subsidy.
The government is paying eligible employers $1,500 a fortnight for each stood down employee.
Employers cannot ‘pick and choose’ which workers receive the wage subsidy – it’s a ‘one-in all-in’ rule.
Although stand downs can be frustrating and uncertain, the good news is you will almost certainly return to work.
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