What are the rules regarding employees during the Coronavirus?

Mar 23, 2020

With many businesses facing shut down or severe reductions in turnover, businesses are being forced to consider reducing staff hours, standing staff down or letting them go. Employers obligations in these circumstances are complicated but here is some guidance.

The main source of information to tell employers what they can and cannot do is available at the Fair work website. The website includes guidance on what happens when an employee is required to self-isolate, wants to stay home as a precaution or what happens if your business is required to shut down. What you can do may be impacted by your specific award and will vary depending on whether you have casual or permanent staff.

Before making any decisions there are a few additional factors to consider. One is to ensure that you know how much leave your employees are entitled to. Unused Annual and Long Service Leave will be payable whether employees are terminated or not. Long Service Leave doesn't just apply to permanent employees but also casual employees.

Another factor is the PAYG rebate that the Government is paying (see our article here). If you are a small business employer entitled to more than the minimum payment and less than the maximum payment you will receive a rebate of up to 200% of any PAYG withheld from any additional employee wages paid between March to June 2020. This has the potential to significantly reduce costs of maintaining staff, particularly key employees, during this period. If you need assistance with calculating what this benefit might mean to your business please contact us.