Christmas Employee Leave Entitlements

With Christmas fast approaching many employees will be submitting Christmas leave requests to employers. There are a number of questions that employees will have to consider in relation to annual leave during the Christmas and New Year period. Some typical questions include:

  • whether you can force employees to take unpaid leave during the shutdown;
  • what to do if your employee does not have enough accrued leave but doesn’t want to take unpaid leave either;
  • what to do if you require your employees to work the Christmas period including public holidays; and
  • whether you need to pay a levy for public holidays that your employees work.

This is the first in a series of columns that will deal with these questions.

What are the Employer’s Rights in Relation to the Christmas and New Year Period?

Under certain circumstances, the employer can request that employees take annual leave over the Christmas and New Year period. The employer can also deny requests for leave where the employer requires the employee to meet the operational needs of the business.
Firstly, the employer should check if an award or an enterprise agreement covers the employee. This will determine if the employer you can force the employee to take annual leave during the Christmas and New Year period. If not, the employer should refer to the employment agreement with the employee to see if there is a relevant policy dealing with shutting down during the Christmas holiday and New Year period.
If an employer has no work for employees, or the office shuts down, the employer can direct its employees to take annual leave. The process will then be a matter of negotiation with the employee as to whether they take unpaid or paid leave during that period.

Tim Hayter, Principal, Mid West Lawyers

This information is general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought for your particular circumstances.