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Employee Stand down Letter Due to COVID-19/Coronavirus

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Australian employees may be "stood down" under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Commonwealth) if they cannot be usefully employed because of a stoppage of work for any cause for which the employer can’t reasonably be held responsible. Employees that are stood down remain employed during the period of the stand down, although the employer may not be required to pay them during the period of the stand down. If an employer is proposing to stand down employees, it is important that the employer makes sure there has actually been a "stoppage of work" and the employer "cannot reasonably be held responsible" for the stoppage, in accordance with the Fair Work Act. A mere downturn in work is not sufficient. For example, if the government has ordered that the employer shuts their business, this might qualify as a stoppage of work, the cause for which the employer cannot reasonably be held responsible. But if there has just been a reduction in revenue, so the employer is having to cut back on staffing costs, this may not qualify. As a result, the "stand down" provisions under the Fair Work Act might not apply, meaning that the employer might still be required to pay staff salaries/wages. Employers should exercise the option to stand down cautiously, because if they stand down their employees unlawfully, their employees may be able to recover unpaid wages, and the employer could face penalties for breaching the Fair Work Act. Further information about standing down employees is available from the Fair Work Ombudsman and from the Fair Work Commission. Enterprise agreements, awards, and employment contracts can have different or extra rules about when an employer can stand down an employee without pay, for example, a requirement to notify or consult. On 8 April 2020, the Fair Work Commission made determinations varying a number of Australian employment awards. In addition, on 9 April 2020, the Fair Work Act was amended to support the implementation and operation of the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme. This allows eligible employees to receive a fortnightly payment of $1,500 (before tax) through their employer. Further information is available from the Fair Work Ombudsman and from the Australian Treasury. If in doubt as to whether or not employees can be stood down, seek legal advice.

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________
________
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Email: ________


To: All staff of ________



________



Subject: Closure of business due to coronavirus (COVID-19)


Dear All:


We are writing to inform you that unfortunately, as a result of the current coronavirus pandemic, as of ________, we shall cease operating our business for the time being. This is a difficult time for us all and this decision has been considered very carefully. We can assure you that this does not mean that you shall lose your job with ________.

The government has ordered that all non-essential businesses cease their public operations in order to limit the spread of coronavirus throughout the population.

As we are being forced to close, for reasons that are outside our control, the "stand down" provisions under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Commonwealth) may apply.

These provisions mean that your job is protected through this period, notwithstanding that we are unable to usefully employ you. If you wish to receive some income through this period, then you may speak to us about accessing some of your leave entitlements.

We are also applying for the Australian Government's JobKeeper Allowance, and we understand that all employees are likely to be eligible for payments of at least $1,500 per fortnight (before tax) under this scheme, while the scheme remains in operation.

We shall begin operating again as soon as is allowed by the government and we shall notify you promptly of this when such time arises.

Due to the closure of the business the best way to contact us throughout this period is by the following method:

________

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We apologise for any stress and confusion that this process and decision may cause but at this time we must put the health, safety and wellbeing of all persons above all other matters.

Should you have any questions relating to this letter and its contents please do not hesitate to contact us at your earliest convenience.



Yours faithfully,




________

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________
________
________
Email: ________


To: All staff of ________



________



Subject: Closure of business due to coronavirus (COVID-19)


Dear All:


We are writing to inform you that unfortunately, as a result of the current coronavirus pandemic, as of ________, we shall cease operating our business for the time being. This is a difficult time for us all and this decision has been considered very carefully. We can assure you that this does not mean that you shall lose your job with ________.

The government has ordered that all non-essential businesses cease their public operations in order to limit the spread of coronavirus throughout the population.

As we are being forced to close, for reasons that are outside our control, the "stand down" provisions under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Commonwealth) may apply.

These provisions mean that your job is protected through this period, notwithstanding that we are unable to usefully employ you. If you wish to receive some income through this period, then you may speak to us about accessing some of your leave entitlements.

We are also applying for the Australian Government's JobKeeper Allowance, and we understand that all employees are likely to be eligible for payments of at least $1,500 per fortnight (before tax) under this scheme, while the scheme remains in operation.

We shall begin operating again as soon as is allowed by the government and we shall notify you promptly of this when such time arises.

Due to the closure of the business the best way to contact us throughout this period is by the following method:

________

5552525252 2588 225825 22 8828552 525 252 8222825822 25252288, 82 8885 525 228255522 225 22 8252 8522 82 8585822 2255 55258 58 522585582 58 22888882 225 5 2828252 22 282222 8282258 525 22 25582882 828858 5882528822 2522 225258 85252 5258225882 22888882 58 225 2282522222 525 22585 825825 852528852822 25855282.

We apologise for any stress and confusion that this process and decision may cause but at this time we must put the health, safety and wellbeing of all persons above all other matters.

Should you have any questions relating to this letter and its contents please do not hesitate to contact us at your earliest convenience.



Yours faithfully,




________