Are you aware of when to apply shut down or stand down provisions or when to suspend an employee?
Temporary shut downs are different from stand downs. The occasions and reasons are different and they are treated differently under workplace law.
Shut downs: An employer can temporarily shut down their workplace during traditionally slow business periods - Australian workplaces often choose Christmas and New Year.
An employer can stand down an employee under the Fair Work Act 2009 without pay if they can't usefully be employed. The reasons for this include:
- when there's industrial action (unless the employer organised or is involved in the industrial action)
- when machinery or equipment has broken down and the employer cannot reasonably be held responsible for the breakdown
- when work stops for reasons the employer can't be held responsible for, such as a natural disaster.
If an enterprise agreement, transitional instrument, or contract of employment allows it, an employer might be able to stand down employees when they can’t be usefully employed in other circumstances. These instruments may also contain additional requirements, such as the employee being given notice of the stand down.
An employer would only normally suspend an employee and relieve them of the requirement to attend work if conducting an investigation into an allegation of misconduct or similar and it is necessary to allow a complete and unimpeded investigation to occur.
What happens to pay and leave?
If an employee is stood down or suspended or if a business temporarily shuts down, the employee's leave (annual leave, personal leave, etc.) continues to accrue.
When an employee is stood down, the employer is not required to make payments to the employee for the stand down period unless the employee is covered by a contract, transitional instrument, or agreement that states the employer must pay the employee during the stand down.
During shutdowns, accrued annual leave or leave without pay is usually taken. Suspended employees receive full pay during the time of investigation.
Your HRmanager's document library has been updated to include new policies on stand downs and suspension. Shut downs are covered in the Annual Leave Policy.