Stand down, continuous service and accumulation of leave

When an employee is stood down by their employer, the stand down period still counts as service, and the employee continues to accumulate leave.

What is service?

Service is the total amount of time that an employee has been employed by their employer, but it doesn’t include some unpaid periods. Service is used to determine employee entitlements. It’s counted in different ways for different entitlements.

In some cases, such as some transfers of business, an employee’s service with an old employer can count as service with the new employer. When businesses change owners has more information on transfers of business.

What is continuous service?

Continuous service is an unbroken period of service.

Do periods of stand down count towards an employee’s continuous service?

Yes. Time away from work due to all types of stand down counts as service and won’t break an employee’s period of continuous service.

This means that time stood down is included when calculating an employee’s entitlements under the National Employment Standards, such as notice, redundancy and leave.

See Stand downs for more information about how stand downs operate.

Accumulating leave during stand down

Both annual leave and sick leave continue to accumulate during a stand down


Toto works full time at a brick factory.

The road to the brick factory where Toto works was closed due to flooding. The road was impassable for two weeks, so the brick factory was closed and no-one was able to work.

Toto was stood down under a general stand down and was not paid by his employer until the road was open again because there was no useful work for him to do.

Toto still accumulated his full four weeks of annual leave that year.

Stand down under the former JobKeeper scheme

The JobKeeper scheme allowed for the following stand down directions to be given by employers in response to the pandemic:

  • a JobKeeper enabling stand down direction by a qualifying employer under section 789GDC [repealed] of the Fair Work Act
  • a JobKeeper enabling stand down direction by a legacy employer under section 789GJA [repealed] of the Fair Work Act.

The JobKeeper scheme ended on 28 March 2021. JobKeeper stand downs no longer apply.

However, service during the period when the JobKeeper scheme was in place can impact an employee’s current entitlements.

More information

Stand down is different to unpaid leave, even though they can both be unpaid. It is also different to shutdown periods. For information about the difference, see our Library article Difference between stand down, unpaid leave & shutdown.

For information about unpaid leave and continuous service, see our Library article Unpaid leave & continuous service.

We also have more information on the former JobKeeper scheme in our Library: 

JobKeeper enabling stand down directions has information for qualifying employers on JobKeeper enabling stand down directions that may have reduced employees’ hours or days of work (including to zero).

Pay and the former JobKeeper scheme has information for qualifying employers about how an eligible employee was paid under the JobKeeper scheme.

JobKeeper enabling directions and agreements for legacy employers has information on JobKeeper enabling stand down directions that may have reduced employees’ hours or days of work.

Former JobKeeper scheme overview has information about the end of the JobKeeper scheme.

View references

Fair Work Act 2009

  • section 22 deals with continuous service
  • section 524 allows employees to be stood down without pay in certain circumstances
  • section 789GDC [repealed] allowed qualifying employers to give certain directions to eligible employees
  • section 789GJA [repealed] allowed legacy employers to give certain directions to employees that they previously received JobKeeper payments for

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