Unexpected events, such as earthquakes, have meant that many employers have not been able to open for business and/or employees have not been able to get to work.

Especially if the interruption is short, many employers will choose to continue to pay employees to preserve goodwill.

Whether or not you have to continue to pay staff if your business is forced to shut temporarily through outside circumstances depends on the terms of the employment agreement you have entered into.

If you want to be able to not pay workers if the business has to temporarily shut then this needs to be specifically covered in the agreement with each person.

If your agreement does not provide for this, and you unilaterally cut wages, you could face claims for unpaid wages and penalties.

If the situation is not covered by the employment agreement, employees cannot be forced into any changes to their employment agreement made by the employer.  Of course such changes may be bargained for in return for a wage increase or other benefits the next time you negotiate your agreements.

Even if you wanted to protect staff goodwill, could your business afford to keep paying the wages if an earthquake meant you were closed for days or weeks?

To give you the option at least and ease your mind we can provide you with clauses to be negotiated over and inserted into employment agreements to cover these sorts of situations.