Standing down employees under the Fair Work Act 2009

Last updated: December 2020 | 2 min read

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Standing down employees under the Fair Work Act 2009

An employer can stand down an employee under the Fair Work Act 2009 without pay if they can't usefully be employed:

  • when there's industrial action (unless the employer organised or is involved in the industrial action)
  • when machinery's broken down and the employer cannot be held reasonably responsible for the breakdown
  • When work stops for reasons the employer can't be held responsible for, such as a natural disaster.

If a transitional instrument, enterprise agreement or contract of employment allows it, an employer might be able to stand down employees when they can’t be usefully employed in other circumstances. These instruments may also contain additional requirements, such as the employee being given notice of the stand down.

If there is a dispute about a stand down under the Fair Work Act 2009, an application can be made to Fair Work Australia to deal with the dispute. An application can be made by:

  • an employee who has been, or is going to be stood down under the Fair Work Act 2009
  • an employee who has made a request to take leave to avoid being stood down and whose employer has approved that leave
  • a union who is entitled to represent the industrial interests of the employees described above or
  • a Fair Work Inspector.

If an employee is stood down or if a business temporarily shuts down, the employee's leave (annual leave, personal leave, etc.) continues to accrue.

When an employee is stood down, the employer is not required to make payments to the employee for the stand down period unless the employee is covered by a contract, transitional instrument, or agreement that states the employer must pay the employee during the stand down.

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