We understand the Barkly region is currently experiencing the impacts of Cyclone Megan. Natural disasters such as a cyclone can cause devastation to communities, businesses, and individuals.

For businesses understanding employees’ entitlements and the employer obligations during these times may be difficult.

An employee may have entitlements under their award or agreement that are relevant if they can’t attend work because of an emergency or natural disaster.



If your workplace is affected by Cyclone Megan, employers may need to stand their employees down without pay under the Fair Work Act. The Fair Work Act stand down provisions only apply when an employee’s enterprise agreement or employment contract doesn’t have similar stand down provisions.

Under the Fair Work Act, employers can stand down employees without pay where they can’t be usefully employed in certain circumstances. This includes where there is a stoppage of work caused by natural disasters, such as cyclones.

Employers can't stand an employee down just because the business is quiet or there isn't enough work due to bad weather.

However, there are alternative options to standing down employees during a natural disaster.

Before standing down an employee under the Fair Work Act, employers should consider all other options available. These can include:

  • inviting employees to take a period of accrued paid leave (for example, annual leave)
  • requiring employees to take annual leave if their award or agreement allows it, or if the employee isn’t covered by an award or agreement (and the requirement is reasonable)
  • if there are multiple worksites and not all sites are affected, consider voluntary work sharing arrangements (for example, employees working at sites that aren’t affected by the natural disaster may offer to take paid leave while their position is temporarily filled by someone from an affected site)
  • flexible working arrangements, like working from home.

Any arrangement to change an employee’s working patterns needs to be made in accordance with the Fair Work Act and the requirements in any award or agreement that applies.

Further, employees may want to volunteer to help their community with disaster relief and recovery activities through recognised emergency management bodies. For example, the State Emergency Service (SES). There are also provisions for Community Services Leave.

If you have any queries on processing leave or needing to provide different alternatives during this time, please contact the Workplace Relations on [email protected] or by phone 08 8982 8102.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, stay safe and follow the advice of the Northern Territory Police, Fire and Emergency Services.

Picture by Weather Zone: Destructive winds of up to 200kmh are possible at it centre.

Workplace Relations CCNT