Dear Colleagues and friends,
WITH THE DISRUPTION BROUGHT ABOUT BY THE CORONAVIRUS we are all experiencing turbulent times with changes happening on a daily basis. One of the key areas of concern by many of you is what is your legal position with staff terminations and what are your obligation with wages when no income is coming in.
I cannot stress enough at this point how important it is to base your decision on sound legal advice relating to your regulatory options.
Here at APAN, we consider it our duty-of-care to ensure you gain accurate information that is legally and regulatory sound to ensure you are fully protected.
We are talking with our lawyers on a daily basis as new information from the Prime Minister’s office is coming in as his directives can be misunderstood and need legal clarity on how to interpret them.
As the most urgent concerns that most of you are question is clarity on how to handle staff, I am prioritising this issue.
With regards to staff dismissal issues, below we have included information from our lawyers that can bring clarity to this subject and help you make sound and safe decisions:
AS AN EMPLOYER, WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS – CAN I STAND-DOWN EMPLOYEES ON UNPAID LEAVE?
Depending on the circumstances, yes.
If an employer must shut down part or all its operations for a period of time and its employees cannot be usefully employed, the employer may be able to rely on the ‘stand-down’ provisions contained in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).
Here is the important provision that you can present to your staff if you have no choice but to stand-down staff without pay:
Section 524 of the Act provides that an employer may stand-down an employee without pay when:
- There is a stoppage of work for any cause for which the employer cannot reasonably be held responsible; and
- The employee cannot be usefully employed.
It is a requirement that there actually be a stoppage of work within the employer’s business outside the employer’s control and not merely just a slowdown in the patronage of the business.
Enterprise Agreements and contracts of employment can also govern whether or not you can stand-down employees.
Note that an employee will generally continue to accrue entitlements to annual leave and personal/carer’s leave under the National Employment Standards during the period of stand-down.
USE OF ANNUAL OR LONG-SERVICE LEAVE RATHER THAN STANDING-DOWN
Another option is the employer can invite their employees to take paid leave such as annual leave or long service leave. Alternatively, invite them to a period of leave without pay and which may be an alternative to having to make the employee’s position redundant immediately.
In some cases, an employer may direct an employee to take paid leave, but there are limitations that need to be considered.
What is most important is to sit with your staff and have an open and honest discussion. Try and understand their position, but also clearly communicate your financial position and what is feasible and what is not.
If you have no choice but to dismiss use Section 524 to valid your legal position to do so. It is important that your staff understand that you are operating within the legal provision of the Act and help them understand your reality.
Maintain a good relationship with your staff and assure them that you have every intention to reinstate them once your financial circumstances change.
Alternatively, if you wish to continue to stay connected with them and they are happy to work with you, you can offer them valuable training and skills- development to best prepare them for the future.
As the leader of your team, you can contribute to support your staff and clients through care and compassion and through a positive attitude. It will not only be greatly appreciated by others, but it will also help you stay on track of your own emotions.
While we will continue to pass on the legal advice we receive from our lawyers at no charge, you are most welcome to contact them if you believe you wish to gain their direct assistance for your business. If you do, however, please note that fees will apply.
The Pointon Partners employment law team is here to provide rapid advice and assistance to help you navigate through this extremely challenging time. If you would like to access their services please visit their website https://pointonpartners.com.au/
Please do not say goodbye to your clients, just change the way you are communicating with them. Here are a few suggestions:
While you can no longer provide hands-on treatments and services you can still reach out to them and talk to them about skincare products they may need.
- Offer them tips on skin-management for their particular needs.
- Educate them on how your treatments work.
- Give them tips on stress management.
- Discuss diet and lifestyle changes that can help them manage their stress levels.
- Create a closed Facebook group to stay in touch with your clients.
- Provide them with motivational statements.
Be creative with your communication. We can no longer do things the old way, but we have a great opportunity to build and enrich our relationships with one another and our clients.
WE ARE HERE TO SUPPORT YOU
Please reach out to us if you need help or someone to talk to.
Ph: 07 5593 0360