Workforce Considerations During Covid-19
As COVID-19 continues to affect businesses, unfortunately downsizing and options available are a key consideration for many. This may include standing down employees, redundancies and/or reduced working days for example.
Fair Work has indicated that situations where employers can stand down their entire, or part of their workforce, include the following:
- if there was an enforceable government order or direction requiring the business to close (which means there is no work at all for the employees to do, even from another location).
- if a large proportion of the workforce was required to self-quarantine with the result that no useful work was able to be performed in the business by the remaining employees/workforce.
- if there was a stoppage of work due to lack of supply for which the employer could not be held responsible.
Employees accrue leave as normal while on stand down.
Employers are not required to pay their employees for the period of a stand down. In our experience, most of our clients are allowing employees to utilise their leave entitlements.
What about employees without sufficient leave entitlements? Employers may allow those employees to go into negative annual leave.
Reductions in working hours and days across the board are also occurring. However, employers need their employee’s consent to reduce working hours, otherwise a redundancy may be triggered.
Businesses should also take advice from their accountants before taking any action on reducing employee numbers as there are incentives in place for businesses to retain employees.
If you have any questions about your own matters or circumstances or would like any further information regarding the above, then please call or email us.