As we all combat the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, we understand that COVID-19 is becoming challenging for all of us as the uncertainty of the situation intensifies, and a lot of anxiety builds. It is for these reasons that it is essential that you understand that management has the health, safety and well-being of all our people as an utmost priority.
We understand communication is critical in this situation, so we have developed this hub to ensure you are informed as far as reasonably practicable. We will continue to update this hub with any changes or information as it becomes available. Feel free to reach out to any of the Response Team on email@example.com with any queries, questions or for advice.
Working to Keep our Sites Safe and Open
At all times, the health and safety of all our workers and the public is our highest priority. We believe that as an industry, it is essential that the principal contractors, subcontractors, unions and most importantly the workforce, continue to consult and work together to implement safe work practices and follow all the Government and Department of Health guidelines and directives.
With the full commitment of all parties consulting over, complying with and monitoring of safe work practices, we can continue to "keep our sites safe" and mitigate the risks associated with COVID-19 as far as reasonably practicable.
We intend to continue operating while it is safe and practical to do so. However, if the government decides in the interests of community health to halt construction work, we will have no alternative other than to follow that directive.
Know the facts about COVID-19
Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease that causes respiratory illness (like the flu). COVID-19 spreads primarily through contact with an infected person when they cough or sneeze or through the touching of ones eyes, nose or mouth after direct contact with a surface or object that has the virus on it. For more information, please click on the links below.
What is a Stand Down?
Under the Fair Work Act 2009 (s524-525); a Stand Down is when an employee cannot be usefully employed because of a number of circumstances including:
- A breakdown of machinery or equipment, if the employer cannot reasonably be held responsible for the breakdown or;
- Industrial action, when it's not organised by the employer;
- A stoppage of work for any cause for which the employer cannot reasonably be held responsible. Examples of this can include natural disasters, pandemics etc.
Should an instance occur where Stand Down is necessary, you will be provided with a Stand Down from Employment notice advising the reasons for the Stand Down.
What happens if I am served a Stand Down from Employment Notice?
This notice will generally be in the form of a letter. If you receive this notice, you will not be required to attend work until we provide you with further communication. It is essential that during the Stand Down period, you pay extra attention to your text messages on your mobile phone and your emails.
If I receive a Stand Down notice, do I remain employed by STAR Group?
Yes. Being served a Stand Down notice can create doubt and anxiety. It is essential to acknowledge that being stood down does not affect your employment with Star Group. Your service will continue, including for accrual of leave entitlements.
Will I get paid if I am on Stand Down?
Under the Fair Work Act 2009 (s524), for the hours during which you are stood down, you will not be paid any wages. We understand the severe consequences that a Stand Down can have for you and your family, so we will give you the option to access your accrued leave entitlements during the Stand Down.
Thanks to the Federal Government's new “Job Keeper” subsidy, in the event of a complete shutdown of the construction industry, you may potentially be entitled to this payment. We are still processing this information and how this system will actually work, and will provide additional information as soon as possible.
What type of leave can I apply for during a Stand Down?
You will be able to access your accrued leave during the Stand Down. The leave types that you are allowed to access are:
- Annual Leave
- Rostered Days Off (RDO)/ Leisure Days; or
- Long Service Leave (only applicable in some states and unique applications).
You are also entitled to be paid on a public holiday that falls on a day that you have ordinary hours of work.
If you're wishing to access your leave during the Stand Down, you will need to complete an COVID-19 Leave Nomination Form. This form allows you to quickly nominate the entitlements you’d like to apply for in a single application.
Do I still accrue my entitlements while on Stand Down?
The Fair Work Act 2009 recognizes a period of Stand Down as ‘service’, meaning you will continue to accrue annual leave and personal/ carer’s leave under the National Employment Standards (NES).
If I am on Stand Down, when do I come back to work? How will I know?
Should a Stand Down take place, we will endeavour to provide updates on the status of the Stand Down on a fortnightly basis. Emails will be sent to your personal email address and text messages to your mobile from time to time.
Employee Assistance Program - is it available during a Stand Down?
Yes. Assure Programs is available to you during a Stand Down. The below types of assistance are available:
- Confidential psychological counselling (conducted at Assure Program’s discretion)
- Wellbeing coaching
- Financial Coaching
- Holistic Support Services
These services are available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Should you wish to gain access to these services, you're welcome to call 1800 808 304 or visiting www.assureprograms.com.au
Can I claim MERT payment while on Stand Down?
You may receive payments to a MERT account as part of your employment, but to be eligible to claim these funds, you must have ceased employment with STAR Group.
However, MERT is making available to MERT Members an initial $2,000 Stand Down payment (taxable) followed by a second $2,000 payment five weeks later to assist with hardship. You need to contact MERT to access this support.
You're responsible for making any application to MERT. For further information, visit www.mert.com.au or call 1800 023 692.
Can I take redundancy while on Stand Down?
We are not considering offering voluntary redundancies in the event of a Stand Down. We will need to continue the current work as soon as this Health Emergency is resolved, so we will need you back at work. Staged re-starts may be required due to logistics.
Should we consider redundancies at a later stage, formal communication from executive management will be made to you.
Do the long service leave changes apply to me?
Yes, the NSW Parliament recently passed changes to long service leave which will create greater flexibility for employers and employees to access leave during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. The amendments to the Long Services Leave Act 1955 will allow you to take leave in shorter blocks, such as one day a week, and without the traditional one-month notice period, by agreement with STAR Group. Read more here Treasure Media Release.
What other support is available?
There is a lot of support externally to STAR Group that is being provided by the Government and other associations. We have created a Support Information Pack, which outlines some of the support available to you and your family.