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Stand downs

Last updated August 2023

This chapter explains when and how you are able to implement stand downs during business interruptions.

What is a stand down?

Definition: Stand Down

A stand down refers to a situation in which an employer directs an employee to stop performing work for a specified period and does not pay wages to that employee.

A stand down involves suspending:

  • the employee’s rights and duties as an employee; and
  • the rights and duties you owe in relation to the employee.

This can only apply when the employee cannot usefully perform work for reasons beyond the employer’s control, and only when the right exists under:

  • an employment contract;
  • a provision in a modern award or an enterprise agreement; or
  • the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act).
Caution: If you don’t have a legal right to stand down your employee, a refusal to pay wages could mean you are effectively dismissing the employee. If you reduce the wages of your employee without their consent and without a contractual right to do so, your employee may claim to have been constructively dismissed.
Remember: Standing down an employee is different to the suspension of an employee, and a stand down period does not break the employee’s continuity of service.
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