Bushfires impact workplaces too

News of bushfires is rife over summer and can have a devastating impact if it brings your business to a grinding halt.

With January in full swing, we’re well and truly into bushfire season, but what happens when workers have to down tools and businesses are impacted by the destruction of buildings?

If access to a business is cut off due to a bushfire, are companies still obliged to continue to pay staff?

An employer is obliged to continue to pay employees, even if there is no work available. In some situations, however, it may be possible to ‘stand-down’ employees without pay. The Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act) identifies certain circumstances where a stand-down may be applied, including where:

  1. It is a stoppage of work for any cause for which the employer cannot reasonably be held responsible; and
  2. The employee cannot usefully be employed because of this reason.

In the context of a bushfire, if access to your business is prevented or if the effects of a total fire ban prevents normal business operations it may be considered such stoppage of work.

During a period of stand down, an employee’s continuity of service cannot be broken and the stand down counts towards service for all purposes (i.e. accrual of annual leave).

It is important to check any applicable contract of employment, award or agreement in case there are any differing entitlements.

If there is mutual agreement for an employee to access accrued annual leave during this period, it would no longer be considered a stand down.

► For further information and advice about stand-downs, contact our Employee Relations Advice Centre today on 9365 7660 or [email protected].


Share this:
Share This Post

You may also be interested in

Project EOI open: funding barriers for small businesses in defence
Project EOI open: funding barriers for small businesses in defence
A Pilot Fund project, through Defence and other agencies, aims to investigate funding barriers facing small businesses in the defence sector.
Read more »
‘Nature Positive’ committee to hear from CCIWA despite avoiding WA
‘Nature Positive’ committee to hear from CCIWA despite avoiding WA
A Senate Committee investigating the planned overhaul of Australia’s environmental approvals system holding its only public hearing in Canberra is an insult to WA, CCIWA...
Read more »
Xplorate expanding aerial intelligence presence globally
Xplorate expanding aerial intelligence presence globally
WA-based aerial intelligence company Xplorate anticipates at least four-fold growth in the next 12 months and beyond, as it expands internationally.
Read more »