With Christmas fast approaching (not to scare you, but only 34 sleeps to go) and for many businesses the chance to shut down and enjoy the holiday period with family and friends, it is important to make sure you have adhered to the new rules around shutdowns and annual leave directions during the holiday season.

For those of you who have missed it, from 1 May this year, the rules around employees taking annual leave during a shutdown changed for a long list of Awards.  As a reminder, a shutdown is when a business temporary closes, such as during Christmas and New Year.  Over 75 Awards have changed, including the Building Construction, Clerks – Private Sector, General Retail, Hospitality Industry (General), Manufacturing and Associated Industries and Occupations, Road Transport and Distribution, and Storage Services and Wholesale Award.

Each Award may be slightly different, so it is imperative to check your Award or contact us at HR Gurus to assist, but an important change is employers must provide at least 28 days’ written notice of the temporary shutdown period to all impacted employees.  This means, that just casually telling the team at your team meeting is not enough, and that depending on when you shut down commences, you have less than 6 days to make sure you have done so!

So, what do the new rules mean, I hear you ask?

  • employers may require employees to take paid annual leave during a temporary shutdown
  • the requirement to take annual leave must be reasonable
  • the notice period can be reduced through an agreement between the employer and the majority of impacted employees
  • an employee who doesn’t have enough paid annual leave to cover the whole period can form an agreement with their employer for other options for the days not covered, such as:
    • using accrued time off
    • annual leave in advance, or
    • leave without pay.

And what happens if my employees are award free or their award is silent in relation to shutdowns?

If your employees are not covered by an Award, or their Award doesn’t have rules directing employees to take leave during a shutdown period, you need to form an agreement with affected employees to take annual leave, annual leave in advance, or unpaid leave during the shutdown. This means you cannot force them to take paid or unpaid leave, and rather need to form an agreement that suits both the business and the employee, including allowing them to work, or paying them not to!!

We understand this is new so reach out if you need assistance, HR Gurus are here to help you navigate this new space!

Written by Shelley Martin – HR Guru

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