Note: The information on this page relates to stand downs as a result of industrial action only.
To find out about your rights and obligations in relation to stand downs as a result of the COVID-19 situation, please go to the Fair Work Ombudsman's website:
See Fair Work Act s.524–525
An employer may stand down an employee during a period in which the employee cannot usefully be employed because of a number of circumstances including:
If an employer stands down an employee during a period in accordance with s.524 of the Fair Work Act then the employer is not required to make payments to the employee for that period.
Section 524 is intended to relieve an employer of the obligation to pay wages to employees who cannot be usefully employed in certain limited circumstances. The consequences of a stand down can be severe for an employee as the employee may be deprived of wages for a lengthy period. Whether a particular employee can be usefully employed is a question of fact to be determined having regard to the circumstances that face the employer.
An employer may not stand down an employee under s.524 of the Fair Work Act if:
Note: An enterprise agreement or a contract of employment may also include terms that impose additional requirements that an employer must meet before standing down an employee (for example requirements relating to consultation or notice).
If the terms of an enterprise agreement or contract of employment provide for the standing down of employees, then the employer will generally need to rely upon the terms of the enterprise agreement or contract of employment to effect a stand down of an employee.
An employee is not taken to be stood down during a period when the employee:
Note: An employee may take paid or unpaid leave (for example, annual leave) during all or part of a period during which the employee would otherwise be stood down.
See Fair Work Act s.526
The Commission may deal with a dispute in relation to stand downs on application by an employee, or an employee organisation that is entitled to represent the industrial interests of an employee:
A Fair Work Inspector can also make an application to deal with a stand down dispute..
A former employee cannot make an application under s.526..
The Commission may deal with the dispute by arbitration. The Commission may also deal with the dispute by mediation or conciliation, or by making a recommendation or expressing an opinion.
In dealing with the dispute, the Commission must take into account fairness between the parties concerned..
Applications to deal with stand down disputes must relate to the operation of the stand down provisions of the Fair Work Act. For example, a person may argue that a stand down contravenes s.524 of the Fair Work Act because the employee that has been stood down could be usefully employed.
The Commission has no power to order that an employer pay an employee wages during a period of stand down..
The Commission is not a court. It cannot exercise judicial power, and as a result cannot make binding determinations as to whether an employer has acted lawfully in standing down an employee. The Commission cannot declare that an employer has failed to comply with s.524, or order that an employer pay wages due to an employee because of that failure. Only a court can make those sorts of orders..
 Communications, Electrical, Electronic, Energy, Information, Postal, Plumbing and Allied Services Union of Australia & Anor v FMP Group (Australia) Pty Ltd  FWC 2554 (Gostencnik DP, 26 April 2013) at para. 31.
 ibid., at para. 17.
 Fair Work Act s.525.
 Fair Work Act ss. 12 and 526(3)(d).
 See for eg Richards v Automotive Brands Group Pty Ltd  FWC 4168 (Colman DP, 10 August 2020) at para. 7.
 Fair Work Act s.526(4).
 See for eg Bristow Helicopters Australia Pty Ltd v Australian Federation of Air Pilots  FWCFB 487 (Catanzariti VP, Gooley DP and Wilson C) at para. 58.
 See for eg Richards v Automotive Brands Group Pty Ltd  FWC 4168 (Colman DP, 10 August 2020) at para. 8.