Christmas and the New Year is fast approaching and many employers will shut down or only operate skeleton staff during this period.

National System Employers (which are trading or financial corporations) can direct employees to take annual leave during this shutdown period in the following circumstances:

  1. The employees are covered by an award or enterprise agreement which contains provisions that enable the employer to direct employees to take annual leave during a shutdown period.
  1. The employees are covered by an award or enterprise agreement, but it does not contain provisions surrounding the taking of leave during a shutdown period. In this case, if no agreement can be made between the employer and the employee, the employee must be paid for their ordinary contracted hours of work for the shutdown period.
  1. The employees are not covered by an award or enterprise agreement, in which case the requirement to take annual leave must be reasonable.

Havilah Legal recommends that employees be made aware of any planned shutdown periods upon commencement of their employment.  Alternatively, if you are an employer that is notoriously busy during the Christmas and New Year period, you may have grounds to refuse requests for annual leave during this time.

We recommend to employers to highlight the business requirements in the contract of employment and leave policy to avoid confusion.
 
Janine Speirs

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