Stand down —rules changed under WorkChoices

Q&A

Stand down —rules changed under WorkChoices

Before WorkChoices employers could not enforce a stand down of employees without first obtaining a court/tribunal order.

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Before WorkChoices employers could not enforce a stand down of employees without first obtaining a court/tribunal order. The rules have now changed under WorkChoices.

A recent question received by WorkplaceInfo highlights this issue.

Q. We wish to stand some of our employees down without pay because the premises were recently damaged by fire. The employees have so far agreed to take their accrued annual leave, but the site won't be operational for another two months. Their employment conditions are currently covered by a NAPSA which does not provide for stand down. Is their any relief provided by WorkChoices?

A. WorkChoices now provides a default right for an employer to stand down an employee without pay, if the employee could not be usefully employed because of any strike, a breakdown of machinery, or a stoppage of work for which the employer cannot be reasonably held responsible.

The stand down right would apply where there is no contract of employment or industrial instrument that provides for a stand-down for the relevant circumstance, and does not require approval from a third party (i.e. Australian Industrial Relations Commission).

This creates a new situation — stand down provisions now apply to all employees of employers covered by WorChoices.

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