Australians are known around the world for their love of sport and over the next couple of weeks, Queensland, and the Gold Coast in particular, is going to be centre stage for this obsession. If you’ve decided to shut down for the coming weeks, did you know there are requirements under awards, and often enterprise agreements, regarding shut downs?

It’s a challenging time for businesses on the Gold Coast, as locals work from home and avoid the roads. Many businesses made plans for staff to work from home, run a skeleton staff, or even shut the doors completely for two weeks.

In some cases, employees have been instructed to take leave due to the business shutting down during games time. Awards and agreements have various clauses to be aware of when instructing employees to take annual leave during a shut down. It’s a good idea to check your employment terms, before making such announcements.

 

For example, the General Retail Industry Award 2010 [MA000004] sets the following rules:

Employees can be directed to take annual leave during a shut down. They have to be given at least 4 weeks notice before the leave needs to be taken.

If an employee doesn’t have enough annual leave to cover the shutdown, they can agree with the employer to take:

  • annual leave in advance or
  • unpaid leave.

If an employee doesn’t agree to either, they have to be paid their ordinary pay rate for the shut down. They can’t be forced to take unpaid leave.

 

However, the Building and Construction General On-site Award 2010 [MA000020] requires that:

Employees can be directed to take annual leave during a shut down period. They have to be given at least 2 months notice before the leave needs to be taken, if the purpose of the shut down is to give all employees (or the majority of them) all of their accumulated annual leave.

If an employee doesn’t have enough leave to cover the shutdown, they will have to take:

  • all of their accrued annual leave and then
  • unpaid leave for the rest of the shut down.

An employer can only shut down the business over the Christmas and New Year period.

 

As you can see, there are significant differences between the requirements in these industries. It’s unlikely that a spur of the moment decision to shut down, requiring people to take annual leave would be acceptable under an award or agreement. This means planning ahead is essential in times where you may choose to shut down.

Shut downs should not be confused with a stand down, in the case of natural disaster, for instance. Different obligations apply in these situations.

To get your employment processes in line, get in touch with our workplace partners today on 1300 766 380.

Award requirements, like the details shared above, can be found at https://www.fairwork.gov.au/leave/annual-leave/directing-an-employee-to-take-annual-leave/direction-to-take-annual-leave-during-a-shut-down#