Can my employer reduce my wages because I’m working from home and looking after my children?

Answer
  • Most employment agreements  require the employer to provide work.  If the employer is unable to provide work, such as in the current circumstances of a Government ordered lockdown, it is likely you are entitled to be paid, in the absence of a term in your employment agreement which specifies otherwise.
  • Your employer may want to vary your employment agreements.  Any changes to an employment require agreement negotiation and agreement.
  • Employment agreement obligations are not varied by any of the current government schemes.

Employees have been sent home, and schools closed, by the Government.  In these circumstances, if you are working from home, and looking after your children, your employer must pay your full wage. Your employer should access a wage subsidy on your behalf and pass it through to you.

In addition, your employer should consider reasonable accommodations and other supports which might be needed to facilitate your working from home whilst caring for dependents such as, for example:

    • Meetings of half an hour as standard, one hour maximum
    • All meetings limited to essential only
    • An alert like a text message rather than an email with urgent work so people are not having to constantly monitor email (or agree on a preferred communication style with employee)
    • Agreed periods where the employee is available and not available, this may mean accommodating for work being done in evenings.