Wet Weather and Work

WET WEATHER & WORK

Given the current wild weather in NQ and FNQ questions are being asked about entitlements to pay when stood down due to weather.

If an employer stands down an employee because of a natural disaster, they don’t have to make inclement weather payments, unless it is provided for in the Award, Contract, Letter of Offer or Enterprise Agreement etc. 

If you are concerned about if you should be paid during a shut down for inclement weather, you should review the terms of your employment, (please don’t rely upon advice from well-meaning Facebook comments from non-qualified individuals).

If the terms of your employment make no reference to inclement weather, then pursuant to the Fair Work Act, your employer is not required to pay you during the stand down.

Inclement or severe weather

Inclement weather is when it is unsafe or unreasonable for an employee to work because of severe weather conditions.

Awards, enterprise agreements and other registered agreements can set out:

  • what inclement weather includes
  • what employees and employers have to do when there is inclement weather.

Stand down

Unless the terms of employment provide otherwise, an employer can send employees home if there is no useful work for them to do because of natural disaster (including floods, bushfires, tropical cyclones).  This is known as a stand down. This can only happen if the reason for the stand down was out of the employer’s control.

Employees can’t be stood down just because there is not enough work.

Pay during stand down

An employee is not paid during a stand-down period unless the terms of the employment state otherwise.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has published a “Best practice tip”

An employee is not paid during a stand down period. However, an employer can be flexible and consider other options that will allow an employee to be paid.

The employer can consider letting employees:

  • take a period of paid leave, such as annual leave
  • work at another location such as from home or another work site.

However, you should be aware this is a best practice tip, not a requirement unless provided for in the terms of the employment.

Employers should review documents before standing employees down

Employers can often be caught out being unaware of their obligations to employees.  This can be unintentional, but despite this, it can often lead to angst and discourse in the workplace.  Don’t be caught out. Make sure you are prepared for inclement weather events (particularly given where we live).

Employers prior to, and during times of inclement weather should review their terms of employment, enterprise agreements or awards to ascertain their legal requirements and obligations to their employees.

Employers should also review these documents to establish if they have an obligation to find other work or consult with employees before standing them down due to inclement weather.  Failure to do so can also have legal ramifications for breaching general protections.

Contracts of Employment/ Enterprise Agreement may provide for pay

Employees and Employers should review terms of employment to determine if your employment conditions include being paid for stand down during severe weather.  It is not unusual in fields such as civil mining/mining for contracts/enterprise bargaining agreements to provide that employees are to be paid a portion or their full wage during a stand down.

Remember in times like these, if it’s flooded FORGET IT!  Stay safe Queenslanders!

For more information, see the Fair Work Ombudsman Website https://www.fairwork.gov.au/pay/pay-during-stand-down-and-severe-weather

The information provided in this article is general in nature and is intended to provide a summary or general overview.  It is not intended to be comprehensive and does not constitute legal advice.  You should obtain legal advice specific to your circumstances.

 

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