Shutting down over Xmas? Communicate with your team now! Here's how.



With only 10 weeks to go until Christmas, now is the time to start communicating with your team about your intentions 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. However, for many businesses, employers may only need some staff on deck (i.e. skeleton staff) or the business will have a complete shutdown period (also referred to as a close down) where employees will be directed to take annual leave.


Either way, now is the time to start notifying your staff of your intentions.


NOTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS


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 shut down 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 shut down 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 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 busiest time of year is over the Christmas and New Year period 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 shut down period, it is best practice that the above points are provided to your employees in writing to confirm the blackout period.


PUBLIC HOLIDAYS


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 2021 (Fri) – part-day public holiday on Christmas Eve from 6pm to midnight (does not apply to all states)

  • 25 December 2021 (Sat) – Christmas Day

  • 26 December 2021 (Sun) – Boxing Day

  • 27 December 2021 (Mon) – Christmas Day observed

  • 28 December 2021 (Tues) – Boxing Day observed

  • 1 January 2022 (Sat) – New Year’s Day

  • 3 January 2022 (Mon) New Year’s Day observed


For public holiday dates in other states and territories, check this page by the Fair Work Ombudsman.



As always, the team at Edwards HR are here to answer your questions and provide support across all areas of HR, in particular the silly season as it quickly sneaks up on us!


You can reach our team on the details below, or visit us at our new offices in Acacia Ridge.


Emma Edwards – 0459 818 011 or emma@edwardshr.com.au

Alicia Hansen – 0497 497 342 or alicia@edwardshr.com.au


Feel free to share this update with others in your network.

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