Coronavirus and Australian workplace laws

On 20 March,  only 4 days ago, I posted material to the effect that an employer, in that case Qantas, did in my opinion have a legal right to stand down employees under the Fair Work Act due to the massive effect the worldwide pandemic  had already had on domestic and international travel. However, I was not at that point prepared to assert that all Australian employers had that same right, and that it depended upon the nature of the business and the implications already felt.

However since then the federal and State governments have issued directions which in my opinion by and large now permit an employer to stand down its employees wholly or in part where the business has been materially affected by compliance with those directions, for example hospitality and retail. It will now only be exceptions to the rule which will not be able to do so lawfully.

For a more detailed explanation, I refer my readers to the Fair Work Ombudsman’s summary which can be located at