Employment conditions during natural disasters and emergencies

With severe rains in NSW, here is a timely reminder from Fair Work on how to manage employment conditions during natural disasters and emergencies.

Certain employers will have to determine employee entitlements if they have to temporarily close as a result of a natural disaster. This may include offering the choice of taking accrued paid leave or, in some cases, standing down employees.

What are the alternatives to standing down employees?

Before an employer stands down employees without pay, there are other options that they may wish to consider. These may include:

  • inviting employees to take a period of accrued paid leave (for example, annual leave)
  • requiring employees to take annual leave if their award or agreement allows it, or if the employee is award or agreement free (and the requirement is reasonable)
  • if there are multiple worksites and not all sites are affected, consider voluntary work sharing arrangements
  • where appropriate, consider flexible arrangements, like working from home.

Note: An employee may have entitlements under their award or agreement that are important when they cannot attend work due to an emergency or natural disaster. If no such entitlement exists, the below guidance from Fair Work outlines the options available to employers and employees depending on their circumstances. CLICK HERE for the latest guidance from the FairWork.

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