The recent natural disasters in Queensland and other areas have highlighted the importance of having clear and concise workplace policies dealing with extreme weather conditions, so as to prevent confusion as to who is entitled to what.
The situations outlined below provide a brief summary of an employer’s position in situations where a business is closed by a natural disaster or other unforseen event. It is important that the employer first consults any applicable award, employment or enterprise agreement, and seeks legal advice where appropriate.
1. An employee is unable to attend work due to extreme weather conditions
If there are no specific provisions in an applicable award or agreement, you may agree with the employee that they take either paid or unpaid annual leave.
2. The workplace is shutdown due to extreme weather conditions
Provided that there are no specific provisions in an applicable award or employment/enterprise agreement, employees may be able to be stood down without pay. If possible, have your employees take part in other paid work, such as cleaning up the workplace (please note that this should extended to those employees physically capable. Workplace health and safety requirements would continue to apply, and significant penalties can apply if these laws are breached).
Please contact me if you require any help or have any questions regarding natural disasters and your business.