Published September 2022
With only 12 weeks to go until Christmas, now is a good time to start communicating with your team what your intentions are over the Christmas – New Year period.
For some businesses Christmas can be the busiest time of year where everyone will be required to keep working. on the other hand, some business may only require limited staff to be on deck (i.e. skeleton staff) or the business will have a shutdown period (also referred to as a close down) where employees will be directed to take annual leave for a specific period.
Hopefully by now, your business should know what will be happening over this period, and now is the time to start notifying your staff of your intentions.
Most Awards and registered agreements allow employers to direct employees to take annual leave if a business chooses to shut down for a period, provided they give the relevant notice.
For example, under the Clerks – Private Sector Award 2020, the Award requires employers to notify employees of a close down period by giving at least 4 weeks’ notice (refer to clause 32.5).
Award-Covered employees: Click here to find out what notice is required to direct Award-covered employees to take annual leave during a shutdown period.
Employees covered by registered agreement: You should check the registered agreement that applies to the employees – the requirements vary widely.
Non-Award or agreement employees: For employees that are not covered by an Award or agreement, the Fair Work Act does allow for employers to still be able to direct employees to use annual leave if the request is reasonable. The Fair Work Act uses a shutdown period (such as Christmas or New Year) as an example of what is a reasonable request.
Remember that in some businesses, there will be different notice requirements for different groups of employees depending on which industrial instrument they are covered by (ie. Award vs. Registered Agreement).
COMMUNICATING THE SHUTDOWN PERIOD
It is important that if you intend to shut down over the Christmas period (or any other period), you must inform your team of the following:
- The dates of when the shutdown period will commence and end.
- The reason as to why the business will be shutting down.
- The requirement for employees to take paid annual leave during the shutdown period, and confirmation that if they haven’t accrued enough annual leave to cover them for the shutdown period then they will be required to take unpaid annual leave.
These points should be provided to employees in writing, in accordance with the notice requirements mentioned above.
COMMUNICATING BLACKOUT PERIODS (no leave permitted)
If you have a business where the Christmas and New Year period is your busiest time of you, and you cannot afford your employees to take leave during that time, now is the time to start consulting with them if you have not already done so.
You will need to ensure you inform your team on the following:
- The dates of when the blackout period will commence and end.
- The reason as to why the business requires employees to be available during that time.
Similar to communicating a shutdown period, it is best practice that the above points are provided to your employees in writing to confirm the blackout period. Ideally, any blackout periods should also be communicated to employees in a Leave Policy – contact the Edwards HR team if you need a hand preparing one.
The following dates/times are public holidays in Queensland and must be paid accordingly.
Generally, this means permanent employees are paid for the day (if it is a day they usually work), or penalty rates will apply if they work on the public holiday.
- 24 December 2022 (Sat) – part-day public holiday on Christmas Eve from 6pm to midnight (does not apply to all states)
- 25 December 2022 (Sun) – Christmas Day
- 26 December 2022 (Mon) – Boxing Day
- 27 December 2022 (Tues) – Christmas Day observed
- 1 January 2023 (Sun) – New Year’s Day
- 2 January 2023 (Mon) New Year’s Day observed
For public holiday dates in other states and territories, check this page by the Fair Work Ombudsman.
For more guidance about this update, or to find out how Edwards HR can support your business, contract our team today on 07 3568 0866.
Feel free to share this update with others in your network.