You may have great employment contracts, or you may have poor ones – either way, you need to refresh your knowledge of what you have formally promised your employees, because they are the primary determinants of your employee commitments and costs.
What do your contracts say about reduced hours of work, or mandating the taking of paid or unpaid leave ? What do they say about “stand down” provisions ? Are your casual employment contracts really permanent contracts in disguise ? And if “worst comes to worst”, what do they say about notices of termination and / or redundancy provisions ?
Beware ambiguous provisions or references to policies that might be out of date. Watch out for contracts that might have been customised for particular roles or employees, or ones that might have predated your current standard contract. If you find a clause that might be problematic, talk to a HR specialist or an employment lawyer.
Remember that Enterprise Bargain Agreements and Industrial Awards are also forms of contracts, with classes of employees, and they may have special conditions that may affect your business’s response to the coronavirus crisis. While you may not have an Enterprise Bargain, remember that all employees are protected by Modern Awards, as a minimum.