An employer can stand down an employee during a period in which the employee cannot be usefully employed for reasons including any stoppage of work for any cause for which the employer cannot reasonably be held responsible.
This is different from being fired or being made redundant because you are still employed by the employer and still have some entitlements like annual leave.
In response to the economic effects of COVID-19, employers have stood down their employees during the pandemic for the following reasons:
- The business has closed because of enforceable government direction, e.g., lockdown restrictions
- There has been a stoppage of work due to lack of supply
Temporary changes to stand down laws were introduced by the Morrison Government during the 2020 pandemic to give employers greater rights to stand workers down and give them directions about when they were to perform their work. However, most of these laws ceased to have any effect after 29 March 2021.
Payment during a stand down
Under industrial law, generally employers do not have to pay employees during a stand down, however your workplace may be different depending on your workplace agreement.
Contact your union or the Australian Unions Support Centre if you are unsure of your entitlements.
If you have been stood down, you are still considered employed by your employer. This means you are still entitled to some of your minimum leave entitlements such as annual leave.
Under a stand down direction, full-time and part-time employees still accrue leave as normal. They can also take paid or unpaid leave as per their normal workplace agreements. You are not considered stood down during this leave period.
Employees stood down without pay are also still entitled to be paid for public holidays, if you would normally have worked on that day. Some exceptions do apply depending on your agreement or contract.
Funding for this factsheet was provided by:
- the Victorian Government as part of the uTech project; and
- the Fair Work Ombudsman.
Please note that the information given here is general information only and is not legal advice. For further assistance, it is recommended you speak to your union.