Stand down of employees & continuous service

Continuous 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 hands has more information on transfers of business.

Continuous service is an unbroken period of service.

Stand down

There were 3 kinds of stand down under the Fair Work Act:

  • a stand down by an employer under section 524 of the Fair Work Act, an enterprise agreement or employment contract (general stand down)
  • a JobKeeper enabling stand down direction by a qualifying employer under section 789GDC [repealed] of the Fair Work Act
  • a JobKeeper enabling stand down direction by a legacy employer under section 789GJA [repealed] of the Fair Work Act.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.

During a general stand down, employees:

  • don’t work
  • don’t have to be paid
  • stay employed.

Time away from work due to all types of stand down counts as 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.


Toto works full time at a brick factory.

The road to the brick factory where Toto works was closed due to flooding after a tornado. 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.

More information

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

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

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 & the 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 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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