By Bethany Silverman
The Northern Territory Government recently announced a lockdown across the Greater Darwin Area as result of emerging COVID-19 cases. Originally, the lockdown was intended to end at 1:00pm on Tuesday 29 June 2021, however, has now been extended an additional 72 hours and will now end at 1:00pm on Friday 2 July 2021.
People are only permitted to leave home for the following five reasons. Masks must be worn at all times when leaving home:
- To receive health care or attend medical appointments. Including to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
- To undertake shopping and get necessary goods and services. Supermarkets will stay open, so there is no need to stock up on groceries.
- To exercise for up to one hour a day within 5km of your home and only with members of your household or one other person.
- To undertake essential work. If you can work from home – you must work from home.
- In case of an emergency or if there is family violence or to provide essential care to a loved one or dependent.
All businesses, retail outlets, hospitality venues, gyms, pools and community centres will be closed. Cafes and restaurants will be able to offer take-away and delivery services.
Although it is school holidays, schools and vacation care will be closed except for the children of essential workers. Childcare centres will open only for the children of essential workers.
If your business is impacted by the lockdown, the following options are available to you regarding the ongoing engagement of your employees:
a) Continuation of payment
Businesses may wish to continue paying employees for the duration of the lock down period given it is for a limited time frame (as known at the date of this alert).
Casual employees will not be entitled to pay where they do not work.
b) Unpaid stand down
Where your business is unable to operate as a result of the lockdown restrictions, and there is a stoppage of work you may be able to impose an unpaid stand down. This option is conditional upon there being a stoppage of work as opposed to significant reduction in the volume of services performed.
We encourage you to seek advice to assess your ability to impose a period of unpaid stand down.
Where a stand down is imposed, you should actively engage with employees and confirm the stand down in writing.
c) Paid leave
As an alternative to an unpaid stand down, a business may wish to give employees the choice of utilising paid leave entitlements (annual leave or long service leave) for the duration of the lockdown.
Paid leave entitlements should only be utilised where requested by an employee.
The situation is currently evolving and further relevant information will be provided when it becomes known.
If you have any questions about these restrictions and how they may affect your workplace, feel free to contact the team at HR Assured.
For HR Assured clients, contact our 24/7 Telephone Advisory Service.
Not an HR Assured client and need some advice? The team at HR Assured can support your business on a range of workplace matters. Contact us today to arrange a confidential, no-obligation chat.
Bethany Silverman is a qualified Senior Workplace Relations Consultant at FCB Group and HR Assured. She regularly provides advice to a wide range of businesses in respect of compliance with workplace laws and managing complex matters including disciplinary and performance management processes and terminations.