Pay during stand down caused by severe weather.

With the recent horrendous weather conditions, all along Australia's east coast, employers will no doubt be asking what rights they and their employees have if there is no useful work for them to do because of extreme weather conditions.

An employer can send employees home if there is no useful work for them to do because of

  • equipment break down;
  • natural disaster (including floods, bushfires and tropical cyclones);
  • industrial action.

This is known as a stand down but it is only a stand down if the reason for the stand down was out of the employer's control. So if the equipment has broken down because it hasn't been serviced or hasn't been repaired, it would be more difficult for the employer to argue that it was out of his or her hands.

Employees certainly can't be stood down without pay just because there is not enough work.

The employer is not under an obligation to pay an employee during a stand down. However, the employer can be flexible in this situation so that an employee can be paid. For example, the employer may consider letting employees take the time as leave or to work at another location such as from home or at another work site.