Your questions answered: Can our employees be made to take annual leave or unpaid leave during our company’s Christmas closure?

By Portner Press on November 4th, 2019
  1. Industrial Instruments
  2. Fair Work Act

Our company closes over Christmas and New Year each year.

If an employee’s annual leave balance is not sufficient to cover this closure period, we ask our staff to take advanced annual leave.

Can we provide them with an option to take LSL or unpaid leave instead?

I assume we would require written consent for either of these options.

We are based in Queensland.

An employee can only take LSL after the entitlement to LSL arises – in Queensland, this is after 10 years of continuous service. The legislation in Queensland is silent as to whether LSL can be taken early, suggesting that while you may offer an employee take LSL, if they have not worked continuously for 10 years at your company, the employee cannot access this entitlement.

Generally, an employer and employee can come to an arrangement where the employee either takes annual leave in advance or unpaid leave during a shut down.

However, if the employee does not agree to either, they have to be paid their ordinary pay rate for the shutdown. They cannot be forced to take unpaid leave.

You should check your award or enterprise agreement (if applicable) to see if it sets out any rules about what to do if an employee does not have enough annual leave to cover the shutdown.

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