When workplaces shut quickly because of a lockdown

Published 22 March 2021 | Updated 23 April 2021

Coronavirus restrictions for Perth and Peel in Western Australia

The Western Australian Government has announced temporary restrictions for the Perth and Peel regions to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

If your workplace is affected, find out more about your workplace entitlements and obligations on this page.

Some businesses in Western Australia aren’t covered by the national system (the Fair Work system). To find out who is and isn’t covered by the WA state system, go to WA Labour Relations – Guide to who is in the WA state system external-icon.png. If your workplace is covered by the Western Australia state system, contact WA Labour Relations for advice and assistance on your workplace rights and entitlements: WA Labour Relations – Wageline external-icon.png.

We'll continue to monitor the situation in Western Australia and update this page if there are any significant changes. For information about the restrictions and rules that apply, visit COVID-19 coronavirus – WA Governmentexternal-icon.png.

While the COVID-19 vaccination rollout happens across Australia, temporary lockdowns of certain areas, industries or workplaces may continue.

Find out what options are available if your workplace shuts quickly because of a temporary lockdown.

Latest information on restrictions

Get up to date information about which restrictions apply in your state or territory from the list below:

Checking what rules and provisions apply in each state or territory will help employers and employees plan for what changes they need to make during a lockdown. 

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Working from home

Some employers may need to introduce working from home arrangements during temporary lockdowns. Employers and employees should consider their specific circumstances before coming to an agreement about working from home.

They should consider whether any previous work from home arrangements can be reinstated for the period of the lockdown. Employers should check if there are any rules about working from home in their applicable:

  • award
  • enterprise agreement
  • employment contracts
  • workplace policies.

Record-keeping obligations continue to apply when employees are working from home. Get guidance on keeping records at Record-keeping.

Find advice for implementing working from home arrangements at your workplace at Alternative work arrangements.

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Changes in working hours and duties

Changes to employees’ working conditions may be needed to help manage the impacts of a sudden workplace closure.

Employers will first need to consider what alternative arrangements may be suitable for their workplace. Available options include:

  • changing hours or rosters of work
  • asking employees to work extra shifts or longer hours
  • changes to an employee’s duties.

Before they introduce these changes, employers should consider what rules might apply under the Fair Work Act and under any:

  • award
  • enterprise agreement or
  • employment contract.

From 29 March 2021, the JobKeeper Fair Work Act provisions no longer apply. This means that if a sudden lockdown happens on or after this date, workplaces can’t rely on the JobKeeper provisions. Find out more at Temporary JobKeeper provisions finishing.

More information:

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Stand downs

Employers may be able to stand employees down during a sudden workplace closure that is outside the employer’s control. For example, they may be able to stand down employees when:

  • the business has closed because of an enforceable government direction (which means the employee can't be usefully employed, even from another location)
  • there's a stoppage of work due to lack of supply for which the employer can't be held responsible.

Employers should first discuss and communicate with employees about a stand down. They should also discuss other workplace options available to employees. These can include:

Our Before standing down employees: employer checklist helps employers make sure they’ve considered all options before standing down an employee. 

From 29 March 2021, the JobKeeper Fair Work Act provisions no longer apply. This means that if a sudden lockdown happens on or after this date, workplaces can’t rely on JobKeeper enabling stand down provisions under the Fair Work Act. Instead they may be able to use the usual stand down provisions as set out in the Fair Work Act. Find out more at Temporary JobKeeper provisions finishing.

Understand how stand downs work during coronavirus at Stand downs.

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Taking care of a child

If an employee can’t return to the workplace because they need to care for a child whose school or childcare centre has closed, they should come to an arrangement with their employer.

This could include requesting to work from home or taking some form of leave. Examples of leave include annual leave or long service leave. Normal leave application processes still apply.

See Alternative work arrangements for what other arrangements might be possible.

Employees also have the option to request flexible work arrangements in certain circumstances. Understand what entitlements apply at Flexible working arrangements.

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Taking leave

Employers should discuss with employees what leave options are available if their workplace must close at sudden notice. Options may include:

During any kind of lockdown, the usual rules for taking or accruing leave continue to apply.

From 29 March 2021, the JobKeeper Fair Work Act provisions no longer apply. This means that if a sudden lockdown happens on or after this date, workplaces can’t rely on the JobKeeper provisions. Instead they need to use the usual provisions as set out in the Fair Work Act, or in an award, agreement or employment contract. Find out more at Temporary JobKeeper provisions finishing.

Learn more about leave options during coronavirus at Pay and leave.

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Border closures: pay and leave options

Some Australian state and territory borders may temporarily close during sudden outbreaks of coronavirus.

While a border closure is in place, some residents of affected states or territories may not be able to attend work as usual.

Importantly, if an employee can’t attend work because of an enforceable government direction, including where this limits travel (or crossing state borders), they should contact their employer immediately to discuss leave or flexible working options.

For all employers and employees:

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Government support

Australian Government

The Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment is a payment available to some workers during coronavirus. It is available to eligible workers in all six Australian states who need to self-isolate or quarantine due to a positive coronavirus case and don’t have paid sick leave.

Learn more about the payment and check eligibility requirements at Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment external-icon.png on the Services Australia website.

State governments

Some Australian states are also providing hardship payments for certain workers who don’t have access to paid sick leave and can’t work because they are waiting for coronavirus test results. Go to:

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Information on previous state lockdowns

Access our historical information about workplace rights and obligations during previous state-based lockdowns:

The information on these pages was accurate as at the date it was last updated.

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