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  • Grant McQuoid

How many hours do I need my employees to work?

Current at 8am 20 April 2020


The hours of work when operating under Alert Level 3 should be aligned to the volume of work that you have available and your Level 3 operating plan.


You may not be able to operate fully until your suppliers are operating and able to supply you or until you have fully established operating procedures.


Additionally, you need to give your customers confidence to engage with your business and need to confirm all existing orders or incomplete work is approved to continue.

The full-time subsidy at (for example) $25 per hour will only cover 23.4 hours of working time, if possible, design the return to work plan to ensure everyone is working the 23.4 hours that the subsidy is paying them for. You will need to decide if your business can afford to pay employees any more than the greater of actual hours worked or the subsidy level, as a minimum the subsidy must be paid and any variation to employment terms must be by agreement.


Based upon the above factors prepare a draft plan of when your employees will return and for how many hours, this should be at an individual or team bubble level.

















Consider discussing the following things with your Team:

  • That if we shift to Level 3 it may be for an extended period of time (unknown), this means that your business may have significantly reduced revenue (some businesses may still have no revenue)

  • With continued limited revenue coming in you need to decide return to work hours, manage expectations about how long it will take to recover post the lockdown period

  • Remind your employees about the actions you have already taken to support them and the business

  • Discuss what your proposal is with all employees and ask for feedback

  • Communicate the hours of work for each employee

  • Communicate how employees will be paid for the hours they are working and if there is any employer funded top up (be very careful that this is affordable)

  • You would like to reach an agreement to vary terms of employment, you are doing this to keep the business afloat so that there will one day be the opportunity to return to full time employment terms

  • The plan above is so we can return to work progressively while doing our best to avoid any job losses or closing down the business

The objective is to reach a ‘by-agreement’ outcome which is then communicated in writing (email or text) and accepted by reply confirmation by every team member.


These continue to be difficult times for all, the above guidance is designed to give you some ideas of how to approach the challenging conversations with employees that all employers must have.

Be sure to talk to your HR specialist or Legal advisors if you want to confirm your decision making prior to communicating with your Team, everyone is here to help navigate what is a tough situation for all.

Remember the key requirement is to have good faith discussions with your employees prior to changing their terms of employment. Any change in your employee’s hours or pay rate is a change to their employment terms.

If you have any queries or need immediate assistance, get in touch.


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