As we all navigate the current situation and COVID-19 devastates businesses large and small business owners are under increasing pressure to make decisions. No one wanted us to be in this situation but the reality is that we are and we just need to do what we can to get by. A concern that I have as an HR professional is that in the haste to cut wages, close down expenditure that is not needed and when standing down staff the decision could be made in haste and end up with a Fair Work fallout once we return to normality (whatever that looks like now we will find out)

There are many workplaces that are standing down their teams right now as it is seen as the easier option BUT there are risks if you do not follow all the correct procedures and adhere to the circumstances that warrant a stand down. You can not just stand down the employee because the work is drying up and profits are down – if there is still useful work for them to do then this may not be the option for you and your business. I have written a recent blog on useful work employee’s can do- read it HERE

If paid or unpaid leave is not an option within your workplace then you may look at reduced working hours but be cautious about trying to get these changes through in haste. Every employee HAS to agree to these cuts in hours – you cannot threaten redundancy if they don’t agree but you can paint the bigger picture –

Example – “We are regretful of having to suggest this option however as a business we are trying to stay afloat and keep you all in work right now and look to how we can remain for the future – in some form or other – we are hopeful that we can come to an agreement with each and every one of you as we would prefer to have you getting some income in these incredibly tough times. We are limited by the options and are trying desperately to avoid having to consider redundancy

I know we are all in crisis at the moment and we are all struggling to find what to do – with so much uncertainty it is challenging to say the least. What I must stress is that you need to be extremely careful as you will need every single employee’s agreement before you vary any term of employment or contractual hours. We would hope all employees see the bigger situation here (even though we acknowledge they are scared too) and agree to support business owners and agree where they can.

This time will certainly test out the loyal employees we have and those that are with us or against us (although that’s not a statement to open opportunities to weed out employees as we re-build)

Before making any decisions in what you are going to do ask yourself these questions

  • Can I keep the employees on in some way shape or form?
  • Is there any useful work for them to do (future planning – see article)
  • Try to look to the future – what will that be – what will 3-months look like?
  • If you can conclude that stand-down is not an option then you may have to consider redundancy

For any support contact the team at Fresh HR Insights by using this link HERE

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