‘Can I direct my staff to take leave over the holiday period?’

November 8, 2018

Planning to shut down over the holiday period? As we reach the end of another busy year for business in NSW, you should be giving thought to how you prepare for shutting down over the holidays.


Businesses closing down during the Christmas and New Year holiday period is common, but there are a number of steps you need to take to ensure you remain compliant.


You’re only entitled to ask an employee to take leave during a shut down period if there is an existing requirement in their modern award, enterprise agreement or contract of employment.


If your employee doesn’t have enough annual leave accrued by the time of the shut down, the employee is entitled to take leave in advance or unpaid leave. The amount of leave in advance they can take is dependent of the award or individual contract.


Follow these four steps out by the Fair Work Ombudsman when planning your shut down period:


1. Check the modern award – check the modern award of your employee carefully to see if there is a provision of forced leave, and if there are any other requirements or conditions you must fulfil, such as providing notice.


2. Talk with your employees – meet with your employees to advise them of the close down period and give them the opportunity to ask questions. You should ensure employees understand:

  • the reason for the shut down
  • the length of the shut down
  • they will receive paid annual leave during the close down (if accrued)
  • this annual leave will be deducted from their accrued entitlements.

3. Create your letter of notice of requirement to take annual leave for the purpose of close down – you must provide your employees with at least 4 weeks’ written notice of the requirement to take annual leave during a close down period. This notice should include the dates the close down period will start and finish, and the reason for the close down.

4. Provide the letter to the employee and keep a copy for your records – provide the letter to the employee, ensuring they receive it at least 4 weeks before the start of the close down period. You should also keep a copy of the letter for your records.


If you have any questions our Workplace Advice Line team is only a phone call away.

The team understand the frustrations, challenges and common mistakes that come with managing workplace issues.

Call them on 13 29 59.