Will your business be shutting down over the Christmas/New Year period? It’s never too early to start planning.
Many employers decide to close their business over the Christmas/New Year period, choosing to send their employees on annual leave. There are various reasons for doing so – operational requirements (supplies have closed), maintenance and cleaning of premises and equipment. Along with this, the high rate of leave requests to coincide with school holidays can also be factor. Whatever the reason for the shutdown, employers should be aware of their rights when considering this move for their business.
Once an employer has decided ‘shut down’ their business, they are required to adhere to notice period when notifying employees. Most modern awards call four (4) weeks notice, although an award may require a greater period of notice. For example, the Textile, Clothing, Footwear and Associated Industries Award 2010 says an employer must provide three (3) months notice. With this in mind, the best way to make sure how much notice to give your employees this holiday period is to refer their modern award, enterprise agreement or, in the case of an award/agreement free employee, the National Employment Standards.
If a modern award does not contain a provision regarding annual shut down, an employer cannot direct employees to take annual leave as an annual shutdown. That is to say, the Fair Work Act (s88) states that paid annual leave may be taken for a period agreed between an employee and an employer, meaning that an employer must get agreement from each affected employee for a shutdown to occur.
Another provision to consider is public holidays that fall within the shutdown period. The Fair Work Act provides that if a public holiday falls during a period of annual leave (such as an annual shutdown), an employee is taken not to be on annual leave where the public holiday falls on a day the employee usually is required to work.
The various public holidays over the Christmas/New Year period are:
- Christmas Eve – Tuesday 24 December 2019 (7:00pm-midnight – SA and NT only, 6:00pm-midnight – QLD only)
- Christmas Day – Saturday 25 December 2021 (all states and territories)
- Boxing Day – Sunday 26 December 2021
- Additional public holiday for Christmas Day – Monday 27 December 2021 (all states and territories)
- Additional public holiday for Boxing Day – Tuesday 28 December 2021 (all states and territories)
- New Year’s Eve – Friday 31 December 2019 (7:00pm-midnight SA and NT only)
- New Year’s Day – Saturday 1 January 2020 (ACT, NSW, QLD, VIC, WA)
- Additional public holiday for New Year’s Day – Monday 3 January 2022 (all states and territories)
- Australia Day – Wednesday 26 January 2022 (all states and territories) (all states and territories)
In conclusion, shutdown is a great way to give your employees, and yourself, much needed time to unwind and prepare for the new year. In short, by adhering to the obligations to your employees, you are ensuring they will return in 2022 bright, happy and ready to work.
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