December 21, 2023

Far North Queensland Floods: Stand Down Employees

Information for flood-impacted businesses in Far North Queensland who can’t open or need to temporarily close - workplace rights and responsibilities including stand down on employees

We are deeply saddened to see the impact that recent flooding and damage have had on our much-loved Far North community.  We've summarised some key points below for businesses and staff during this period in regards to having to stand down employees during this time.

Stand Down Under Section 524 of the FAIR WORK ACT:

As per the Fair Work Act under section 524, you are able to stand down employees if your workplace remains closed due to the flooding, loss of power or water and/ or damage. If your business is not operational, you may stand down an employee.  This period of standdown is unpaid, as it is due to circumstances beyond your control.  

It is important that you reference any stand down being an unpaid stand down in accordance with Section 524 of the Fair Work Act.  This arrangement applies to both permanent and casual employees.

Utilising Leave:

During periods of unpaid standdown, you may like to offer your team the ability to take their leave; however, this is not a requirement under the Act. Again, communication on any inability to provide annual leave should be communicated. It is tough times with a big clean-up ahead.

The workplace is operational, but staff can’t get to work:

Where your workplace is operational and staff cannot get to work, they can take annual leave or other entitlements such as TOIL.  Please keep in mind some staff may be able to access personal leave if they are required to provide care to immediate family members and this would be on a case-by-case assessment of the specific circumstances.

It is natural for Employees to believe that the Employer should pay for time where they have been flooded in rather than having to take their leave entitlement, keep in mind this is a stressful time and it is important to talk your employees though what is happening and why.  

If you choose to extend paid time to employees who are isolated, ensure that any application is fair and consistent across your workforce and advise your team that the extension of paid time is above the requirements of the Employer and you are doing this as a gesture of goodwill, however, the extension of time does not create a precedent to any future events.

Clear and Consistent COMMUNICATION:

The most important takeaway from this message is that effective communication is vital during this period. Everyone is dealing with different challenges, and your team will also be dealing with their own challenges for their homes, families, incomes and Christmas just around the corner. It’s important to have a clear communication strategy in place.

  1. Primary Communication Method to Your Team: How will you communicate?  Email, text, phone?
  2. Regular Updates: Ensure that you update your team regularly.
  3. Consistency: Make sure everyone gets the same message

Please stay safe and take care of yourselves.

If you are unsure, please reach out to HR Dynamics for advice via email or (07) 4051 7307.  Phoebe will be available throughout the Christmas period to speak with businesses, particularly around public holidays and partial business operation and can be contacted during this time on 0438 735 926.

Blog image taken from Stratford 17/12/23 - image courtesy of Kimberley Kennedy 

The information available on this website is intended to be a general information resource regarding matters covered and it is not tailored to individual specific circumstances or intended as a substitute for legal advice. Although we make strong efforts to make sure our information is accurate, HR Dynamics cannot guarantee that all the information on this website is always correct, complete, or up-to-date. HR Dynamics recommendations and any information obtained on this website do not constitute legal advice.

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