Employee leave during the holidays

Employees may find that their employer is temporarily shutting down operations during traditionally slow periods, such as between Christmas and New Year.

Employees should be aware that their employer needs to abide by procedural requirements when asking them to take leave. Strict penalties apply for those employers who fail to comply.

Most modern awards and enterprise agreements will set out the strict rules and requirements that employers must comply with if they require an employee to take paid annual leave during a period of shut-down.

An employee must receive advanced notice (typically four weeks) in writing that they are required to take annual leave.

If there is no modern award or enterprise agreement applicable, the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) allows an employer to require an employee to take a period of leave only if the requirement is reasonable.

In determining whether a requirement is reasonable consider the following factors:

  • customs of the business
  • pre-arranged agreements with employers
  • length of the period required to take leave