Fairwork

Employing staff and Coronavirus: Fairwork directions

Coronavirus (COVID-19) has brought with it great uncertainty and worry amongst the general population, not the least of these, employers and staff. There are many unknowns relating to how to manoeuvre in these difficult times as an employer, especially in terms of ensuring staff are treated correctly and fairly. Recently, Fairwork released some direction for employers on their website. We advise you read the bulk of the details on their page yourself but we do provide a “taste” of the information provided below.


My employee (or his family member) has Coronavirus. What now?

You must direct the employee not to come to work and to only return when s/he has been given medical clearance. If the employee is part or full time, s/he will be able to take paid personal/carers leave. Casual workers will need to take unpaid leave given they do not receive leave entitlements. Workers refusing to use their leave entitlements are not required to be paid. You can ask the employee for evidence of the illness or emergency i.e. doctor’s certificate if required.

My employee wants to stay home to avoid contact with others.

In this case, you need to discuss this with the staff member and come to an agreement that suits you both. If working from home is an option and your staff member agrees to do so, then make arrangements together to ensure this can occur easily and smoothly. If the employee cannot work from home, then you must decide if paid or unpaid leave will be provided. Where an employee refuses to take paid leave (where it is available), then that employee cannot be paid.

I want to tell my employee/s to stay home.

From Fairwork: ” Under workplace health and safety laws, employers must ensure the health and safety of their workers and others at the workplace as far as is reasonably practicable. ” If you believe that it would be best to instruct your staff to stay home due to possible risks from COVID-19, then you certainly can do so. You can organise a “work-from-home” scenario where possible or if not possible, you can direct staff to remain off site but you must be aware as per Fairwork ” where an employer directs a full-time or part-time employee not to work due to workplace health and safety risks but the employee is ready, willing and able to work, the employee is generally entitled to be paid while the direction applies”, and also “standing down employees without pay is not generally available due to a deterioration of business conditions or because an employee has the coronavirus.”

I want to direct staff not to travel.

While you can direct your employees not to travel for work-related events, meetings etc because you want to reduce the risks associated with COVID-19 at your workplace, you cannot ask them to cancel personal travel/trips.


So, in summary, you need to ensure your workplace is safe and you can do this by keeping unwell employees at home and/or all staff at home if required. If your business is structured in such a way that working from home is possible, then certainly bring that to the table and discuss with staff how best to handle that scenario. Part and full time staff should take personal leave if affected by the virus or unpaid leave if they prefer. Similarly, if staff unaffected by COVID-19 request to remain at home and also cannot work from home, they must opt to take annual or unpaid leave. If you direct staff to stay home and there isn’t any evidence that they have been affected by COVID-19, that is, they are well and able to work, then you must continue to pay them as normal. To read the full list of instructions provided by Fairwork, download their factsheet below.

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Employers’ Toolbox (free download)

Are you a new employer? Do you need help with getting started? Do you know what your employer obligations involve? Being an employer is a huge responsibility and brings with it added compliance to which you must adhere if you want to get it right. To assist you in this task, we have created the “Employers’ Toolbox”, a simple guide to getting started including all of the resources you will need along the way.

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The difference between full time, part time, casual and temporary employees

Employing staff can be a minefield even for the best of us! One of the confusing aspects can be understanding the difference between employment statuses and what each one can mean for your employees. Today’s blog will hopefully shine some light on the topic.

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Employment Statuses

There are four employment statuses to choose from:

  • Permanent Full Time
  • Permanent Part Time
  • Casual
  • Temporary

Here is an explanation of each employment status:

Permanent Full Time Employee

Full-time employees have been employed on an ongoing basis for an average maximum of 38 ordinary hours per week. They are entitled to:

  • Annual leave
  • Personal leave
  • Public holidays
  • Parental leave
  • Long service leave
  • Superannuation guarantee
  • Period of notice if job is terminated

Permanent Part Time Employee

Part-time employees work less than 38 hours per week but these are usually set hours and/or days. They are entitled to:

  • Annual leave
  • Personal leave
  • Public holidays
  • Parental leave
  • Long service leave
  • Superannuation guarantee
  • Period of notice if job is terminated

Casual Employee

Casual employees do not have regular work hours and are not guaranteed to get regular work. They are paid for the hours worked and receive a loading (usually 25% but you must check the relevant award as this can vary) to compensate them for not receiving the same benefits as full or part-time workers. Casuals can be entitled to penalty rates, loadings, and allowances – again check your award for further details. Casuals are entitled to:

  • 2 days unpaid carers leave per occasion
  • 2 days compassionate leave per occasion
  • Community service leave (except paid jury service)
  • Unpaid parental leave
  • 2 days unpaid adoption leave
  • Superannuation guarantee
  • A day off on public holidays unless a work day has been arranged between the worker and the employer
  • A maximum of 38 hours per week, plus reasonable additional hours
  • After a period of regular employment across 12 months (and if the position is to continue), casuals are entitled to flexible working hours and parental leave
  • Casuals may also be entitled to long service leave and paid parental leave

Temporary Employee

Temporary employees are engaged for a specific period of time either via a fixed-term contract or to assist in a particular project which has an end date. These employees are also considered to be temporary if they replace permanent employees who may have taken long service leave, parental leave, or who are injured. Workers engaged via an agency would also be classified as temporary. Temporary employees are eligible for the same entitlements as described above depending on whether they are employed on a full-time, part-time or casual basis.

More information about this topic can be found on the Fairwork website.

I hope you now have a clearer understanding of the difference between the 4 employment statuses than you did before! This is a very basic description of employment statuses. For more specific information related to your industry and employees, please refer to your award.

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Employers’ Toolbox (free download)

Are you a new employer? Do you need help with getting started? Do you know what your employer obligations involve? Being an employer is a huge responsibility and brings with it added compliance to which you must adhere if you want to get it right. To assist you in this task, we have created the “Employers’ Toolbox”, a simple guide to getting started including all of the resources you will need along the way.

Toolbox

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What’s this Fair Work Thing?

Are you up to speed with the new Fairwork Industrial Relations? If you aren’t, you should be especially if you are an employer! This modern awards system together with 10 national employment standards began on 1st January 2010. There’s a lot to know about so please read on……..

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