Your rights to impose a mandatory shut down of your workplace
For a range of different reasons, a business may want to impose a shutdown for the Christmas to New Year period. You will need to refer to the Award/s that apply to your workforce to ascertain the business’ right to do so.
For example, the Clerks-Private Sector Award and the Manufacturing and Associated Industries Award provide that an employer may require an employee to take paid annual leave by giving at least four weeks’ notice of the proposed shutdown.
Where employees aren’t covered by an Award, the employer can still require them to take a period of paid annual leave, but only if the requirement is reasonable. Four weeks’ notice should also be provided to these employees.
In considering what is ‘reasonable’, Fair Work Australia would look at the needs of both the employee and the employer’s business and the custom and practice in the business. If the business always closes during the Christmas period, an employer should consider drafting a clause in the employment contracts or a policy to cover shutdowns. This will ensure that employees know and understand the general practice of the business and avoid claims that no reasonable notice was given.
For companies wanting to shut down over Christmas, notice to employees must be provided immediately. This notice should be provided in writing (email would suffice) and should clearly specify the shutdown dates and the requirement to take paid annual leave for those who have it, or unpaid leave for those who don’t.
We can assist you with any enquiries regarding leave entitlements.