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FAQ: NSW and Victorian lockdown

construction lockdownWith NSW and Victoria in lockdown there are restrictions around what work can be done and what cannot. MEA’s Employer Advice team hosted a webinar to answer a range of frequently asked questions from Master Electricians across the two States. 

 

Register your details to receive the recording of the Employer Advice webinar and continue reading below to see the full list of FAQs.

The webinar covers:

  • Stand down procedures;
  • Available financial assistance;
  • Annual leave directives;
  • COVID Safe plans.
Q. Can all workers be stood down during the lockdown?

A. If workers can continue to carry out their duties in a useful manner while working from their homes, they cannot be stood down. If workers are unable to carry out work due to Government lockdowns, they can be stood down without pay.

Q. Do workers qualify for government assistance if they have unused annual leave? Can workers use a combination of leave and government assistance?

A. Stood down workers do not need to have used all their leave before they qualify for government assistance. If a NSW worker’s hours have decreased by more than 20 hours per week they can apply for a $600 per week payment.

If you stand down workers during the lockdown period it is important that you provide them with a letter detailing this. They can then use this letter to prove they have been stood down.

Workers can access annual leave, long-service leave, or RDOs during stand down periods. They can combine the stand down payments with taking leave.

Q. Can I, or an employee, go to the office to do estimating work?

A. The only reason to go into the office is to do work that cannot be carried out at home. If work, including estimating, can be done from home it should be done from home.

The current rules are intended to limit movement to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It is important to abide by the rules in place rather than look for loopholes.

 

Q. I am the director of my company, and my wife is an employee. Can I stand myself down? Can I stand my wife down?

A. The rules around if a director is considered an employee depend on your business set up and financial circumstances. Speak to your accountant regarding this.

If your wife was an employee before the lockdown commenced, then she will be eligible to be stood down and receive government assistance.

 

Q. If I have stood down employees what does this mean for maintaining headcount to receive government grants reliant on this?

A. Stood down employees have not been made redundant or terminated. As there has been no change to the number of employees you employee there is no change in headcount.

Stand downs can only occur in very specific circumstances where your business cannot carry out work due to circumstances outside your control.

 

Q. An employee was due to start work during the lockdown period. Do we need to provide a stand down notice to them?

A. Yes. If this employee were to work more than 20 hours per week and is now unable to do so they will be eligible to qualify for government assistance. They should be provided with a stand down notice they can use to prove this.

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Q. An employee has resigned and is serving his notice during the stand down period. Can I terminate his employment now before his notice period has completed?

A. No, this worker’s notice period still stands. Where appropriate they would be stood down like other workers while no work can be done.

 

Q. If a stood down employee is called in to carry out an allowed emergency job, do they get paid for the hours worked, or for a full day?

A. If a worker is required to carry out an emergency job, that is allowed under the current restrictions, they must be paid in line with the provisions of the award. The award dictates that a worker’s minimum engagement is four hours.

 

Q. If a worker is required to be tested to work outside specific NSW local government areas, does the business need to pay for them for the time spent waiting in queue to be tested?

A. COVID-19 tests occur during the workers own time. The NSW Government requirement is that the worker cannot work until they can demonstrate that they have been for the test.

 

For further information please contact the Employer Advice Line. Master Electricians have unlimited, direct access to the MEA Employer Advice line. Phone 1300 889 198.