News Category - Employment Law By Angus Edwards 23 March 2020

The shutdown of gyms, restaurants pubs, clubs, entertainment venues, cinemas and places of worship which comes into effect at 12 noon today will have massive implications for business. Although cafés and restaurants can operate as takeaway and home delivery, for many staying open may be unviable. For businesses unable to open there will be issues around service delivery, keeping staff on and cashflow.

With more government stimulus announced and directed at keeping staff on, there are several things most businesses will now be weighing up, including:

• Concerns around paying wages and cash flow,
• Deciding which key staff are required to maintain operations,
• Is there enough work,
• Can I go online or explore other service delivery methods.

Ultimately, there is likely to be an impact on staffing, especially with uncertainty as to how long this will go on for.

Before deciding what to do, and especially if a redundancy is being considered, you should consult with affected staff. In fact, most Modern Awards require businesses to consult with impacted staff before making a position redundant. The objective for business owners and staff at this time should be to explore options that keep staff engaged and the business viable. Options to explore include:

• Asking staff to take accrued leave such as annual leave or long service leave,
• Reducing the hours of operation,
• Shutting the business down – particularly relevant for cafes and restaurants,
• Alternate duties.

Remember that once the crisis is over in the weeks and months ahead, you want to be in the best position to rebuild your business, and you will need skills and expertise for your workforce to do this.

These are difficult decisions faced by many businesses, but remember to seek advice from our experienced employment law team. From the decision to change staffing, to the implementation, and having those difficult conversations, we are here to help.

We have enacted our business continuity plan and through our IT and telecommunications systems remain working to help you. We are still just at the end of the phone, a Zoom videoconference or an email away.

Office Hours: 9:00 am - 5:15 pm Monday to Friday.
(02) 6331 2911 or 1800 650 656.

Angus Edwards | Principal