Prime Minister Scott Morrison last night (24 March) announced further restrictions for the Australian community to try and limit the spread of COVID 19. A copy of these further restrictions can be found here.  It is likely that there will be further restrictions imposed by the Australian Government upon businesses as the virus progresses.

There are four questions all business owners and managers need to ask and have answered by expert lawyers.  It is important that you get the answers from people who know what they are doing during these difficult times.

JFMLAW has been providing practical advice to Australian businesses on employment law issues for decades. We remain here for you at this time, ready to provide your business with strategic advice to get you through this COVID 19 pandemic.

Question 1: Can I impose a pay cut on employees?

Answer

Yes, you can ask your employees if they will accept a pay cut.

If your employees agree, you should get them to put it in writing.  Remember award employees cannot be paid less than the applicable award and no employees can be paid below minimum wage!

Contact Tyler Farr or John Morrissey for a simple letter agreement to put this in place.

Question 2: If an employee is within a probation period can I terminate them?

Answer

Yes, you can.

However, you will need to provide them with a reason as well as pay-out the notice period contained within their contract or under the national employment standards, whichever is greater. Terminating an employee within their probation will not require you to pay a redundancy.

Contact Tyler Farr or John Morrissey for a simple termination letter for employee within probation letter to limit risks of a potential claim.

Question 3: I’ve lost some good accounts, but I want to keep the employees who worked on those accounts.

Can I make other employees redundant and give those good employees the redundant employees’ jobs?  Is this legal?

Answer

Redundancy is the abolition of a role not the termination of the person.

It is important to get this right to avoid a ‘sham redundancy’ with associated costs and penalties. The employee you make ‘redundant’ and who has lost their job could take you to Fair Work and cost you money.

Don’t react, plan!

For a strategy to proceed with this course of action please contact Tyler Farr or John Morrissey for an effective strategy. We are here to help you with practical solutions.

Question 4: Can I have everyone work part-time rather than full-time, and pay them as a part-timer?

Answer

Yes, you can as long as you get your employees to sign a new contract reflecting their part-time status.

Put in place a replacement contract with your employees to protect yourself against potential claims.

Contact Tyler Farr or John Morrissey for a simple contract for part-time employees.

Key Takeaways

Act now and don’t delay as the COVID 19 pandemic, and its economic consequences, are likely to be with us for a significant period of time.

Australian businesses need to take immediate and practical steps to ensure their survival during this time.

Cash is tight and JFMLAW is here to help you during these difficult times. Contact us on (02) 9331 0266. The first consultation is free!