Employers have a right to standdown employees if they cannot be usefully employed. This right is guaranteed in the contract of employment and is also recognised in federal and state awards. However, the use of these clauses has altered over the years as a result of varying award provisions and court judgements. Employees may be stood down if they cannot be usefully employed but it is clear that the employer must make some effort to offset the effects of stoppages through strike activity, machinery breakdown or stoppages of work by any other cause. The right to standdown has been restricted through a limit to the length of a standdown period, through a requirement that at least a set minimum of wages must be paid and through the strict control by the Commission on the use of the clause. The conclusion is that some attention must be given to the effect of standdowns on employees, and the author suggests the use of an income-support or wage-guarantee scheme for those employees who would otherwise be stood down without pay.