With Christmas less than 2 months away, many businesses will be planning end of year festivities and potentially, their holiday shut down dates. Some Modern Awards and enterprise agreements have specific requirements for notification of these times for employees, and how that time is to be paid.

In fact, full and part time employees are required to be paid during a shut-down period. Casuals are not required to be paid. Some awards will allow for an employer to direct an employee to take annual leave, with notice. For instance, the Building and Construction General On-Site Award 2010 states:

38.3 Annual close down

(a) An employer may direct an employee to take paid annual leave during all or part of a period in conjunction with the Christmas/New Year holidays, where the employer shuts down the business, part of the business, or a site where the employee works. If an employee does not have sufficient accrued annual leave for the period of the shutdown, then the employee may be required to take leave without pay for the balance of the shutdown period for which leave is not accrued.

(b) Where an employer decides to utilise the provisions of clause 38.3(a) in respect of the Christmas/New Year period for the purpose of giving the whole of the annual leave due to all or the majority of their employees then qualified for such leave, the employer must give at least two months’ notice to the affected employees.

If your award or agreement doesn’t have a clause like this, then you cannot require employees to take annual leave, however you may be able to come to an agreement for them to take paid or unpaid leave.

Sometimes, employees don’t have enough annual leave accrued to be paid for the entire shut down period. Where your award or agreement doesn’t have a clause to cover this, you can ask the employee to take:

  • unpaid leave, or
  • annual leave in advance (where the award or agreement doesn’t prohibit it).

If the employee doesn’t agree to take unpaid leave or leave in advance, they’re entitled to be paid their usual wages for the period.

Plus, don’t forget that all public holidays are to be paid as public holidays, rather than annual leave days.

If managing all your Christmas employment requirements is getting to be all too much, get in touch with the Workplace Central team today; they’ll stop you being ‘snowed under’ this festive season!