In Australia, employers can ask their employees to stand down from their position temporarily. This means that the employee's pay is suspended and they cannot work. An employee may be selected to stand down due to circumstances that are beyond the control of their employer.
Typically, employees are informed of this decision in writing with a stand down letter. The letter details the reason(s) for the stand down, as well as the duration.
Stand Down Letter Due to COVID-19:
Stand Down Laws:
The Fair Work Act gives employers in Australia the right to stand down an employee. If the employee cannot be "usefully employed", meaning that they cannot perform their usual duties or a different set of duties for the business due to circumstances that are beyond the business's control, then they can be stood down without pay.
An economic downturn does not count as a reasonable cause for a stand down. Acceptable causes include:
- An equipment breakdown that the employer is not responsible for.
- An industrial action not organized by the employer.
- Stoppage of work beyond the employer's control, such as weather or a natural disaster.
What does it mean to be stood down?
To be stood down is to have your employment temporarily suspended by your employer for reasons beyond their control. To be stood down means that an employee cannot be retained in useful employment as the results of extenuating circumstances.
When should you stand down an employee?
You should stand down an employee when a situation that is outside of your control prevents the employee from being able to do his or her job.
How do you stand down an employee?
If you have cause for standing down an employee, meaning that their employment cannot continue in any way, even in a modified form, you can present them with a stand down letter. Employees do not have to be paid during a stand down, but they can still accrue vacation time.