COVID-19 Legal Resource
Need legal assistance?
At Lynch Meyer Lawyers, we're here to help. If you have any concerns about the impacts of COVID-19 for you or your business, please feel free to contact us.
We can assist with:
- Employment matters
- Commercial contracts
- Commercial leases
- Electronic conveyancing
- Wills and estate planning
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Frequently Asked Questions
I have a contract that I will not be able to fulfil, what can I do?
First check the words of the contract. Written contracts may have a provision that excuses compliance at least temporarily in certain specified circumstances. This sort of clause is called a force majeure clause and if there is such a term in your contract, the definition of what constitutes a force majeure might include pandemic. If it doesn’t, you will need some advice about other options that might be available to you. Before you do anything, give us a call for some advice if you are not able to fulfil a contract.
Can employees be stood down during COVID 19?
Yes. The Fair Work Act 2009 allows employers to stand employees down without pay when employees cannot be usefully employed due to circumstances for which the employer cannot be held responsible. The effect of a stand-down is that the employee remains employed, but is not required to perform work. Employees continue to accrue annual leave and personal leave entitlements whilst stood down. Decisions about employee entitlements and rights in these difficult times should not be made lightly and you should take advice before you stand anyone down. Call us if you need advice on this.
Can an employer reduce an employee’s hours due to COVID 19?
The new JobKeeper changes to the Fair Work Act, provide that qualifying employers (those who are entitled to the JobKeeper payments) can temporarily change an employee’s usual duties and location of work and agree with their employee to change the days and/ or times of work.
Other employers may reach an agreement with their employee for a temporary variation.
Can employees be made redundant during COVID 19?
An employer can make an employee redundant if they no longer require the employees job to be done. A redundancy has to be genuine, and this includes complying with any requirements to consult before making a decision. An employee worker who is made redundant needs to is entitled to be given notice, and may be entitled to to be given redundancy pay.
Can an employee be made to take annual leave?
The new JobKeeper changes to the Fair Work Act, provide that qualifying employers (those who are entitled to the JobKeeper payments) can request an employee take paid annual leave, and agree with the employee for them to take leave at half pay.
Other employers may reach an agreement with their employee for the taking of paid or unpaid leave.
Can an Employer direct an Employee not to work?
Employers can direct an employees who is sick with COVID 19 not to come to work, provided that they are acting reasonably and based on factual information about health and safety risks, which includes relying on the Australian Government’s health and quarantine guidelines. The employee should be paid for this absence.
If an employee cannot work because they are subject to an enforceable government direction requiring them to self-quarantine (for example they have recently returned from oversees), the employee is not ordinarily entitled to be paid because the inability to work is caused by of an enforceable government direction, not because of the actions of their employer. The employee may use leave entitlements to cover this absence.
Can an employee refuse to attend work due to COVID 19?
Every employer has a duty to provide a safe workplace. Accordingly, unless the employee can establish that the risk to their health and safety by attending workplace is reasonable (for example they are older or have other health issues), the refusal to attend work may be a failure to follow a lawful direction. Employer’s should exercise caution in this area.
What if an employee cannot work because their child’s school has closed due to COVID 19?
Employees who need to look after a child in these circumstances will need to use paid leave entitlements such as carer’s leave or annual leave.