With Christmas just around the corner, you’re probably starting to think about shutting down your business operations over the Christmas and New Year period, or perhaps you’re heading into your busiest period of the year.
Regardless of whether you’re shutting down or staying open, we’ve outlined some important information to consider during the 2021/22 festive season.
If your business shuts down during the Christmas / New Year period
Even though it might be the usual practice to shut your workplace for a period during the silly season, you might not be aware there are strict requirements about correctly informing your employees of your annual shutdown period.
The conditions relating to an employer’s right to send employees on an annual close will depend on the applicable modern award or enterprise agreement or, in the case of an Award/Agreement free employee, the National Employment Standards will be applicable.
Employees covered by an Award
Most Awards will contain terms that allow employers to send employees on an annual shutdown. Under most Award requirements, you are required to give your staff a minimum of four weeks’ notice / one months’ notice in writing, of the intended shutdown period.
This means you have until Thursday, 25 November (at the VERY latest) to notify your team.
Please note, some Awards may require a greater period of notice.
Award / Agreement free employees
The Fair Work Act allows employers who may require an Award/Agreement free employee to take a period of paid annual leave, but only if the request is reasonable. A ‘reasonable request’ would be if your business is due to shut down for a period during Christmas and the New Year.
Matters that can be agreed upon between the employer and an Award/Agreement free employee include:
- for paid annual leave to be taken in advance of accrual (when the period of the shutdown exceeds an employee’s annual leave balance)
- for a specified period of notice must be given before taking annual leave, e.g. four weeks’ notice, and
- the form of application for paid annual leave
IF YOUR BUSINESS DOES NOT SHUT DOWN DURING THE CHRISTMAS/NEW YEAR PERIOD
While the end of the year is a slower period for some industries and businesses, there are other service-based businesses (e.g. hospitality and retail) that ramp up during the holidays and remain open to meet increased customer demand.
It’s important you’re extra aware of their requirements and obligations to any employees who work during this period – e.g. penalty rates in relation to public holidays.
For help calculating the Public holiday penalty rates, visit fairwork.gov.au
It’s also a timely reminder to employers that your request to your employees to work on a public holiday is reasonable… remember your employees don’t have to work on a public holiday; albeit they can only refuse to work if they have reasonable grounds to refuse.
Reasonable grounds incorporate the following matters for consideration:
- the employee’s personal circumstances, (for example family responsibilities)
- whether the employee will get more pay (for example penalty rates)
- the needs of the workplace
- the type of work the employee does
- whether the employee’s salary includes work on a public holiday
- whether the employee is full-time, part-time, casual or a shift worker
- how much notice the employee was given about working
- the amount of notice the employee gives that they refuse to work.
PUBLIC HOLIDAYS (2021/22)
The various upcoming public holidays over the Christmas New Year period are:
- Friday 24 December | Christmas Eve (6pm to 12 midnight)
- Saturday 25 December | Christmas Day
- Sunday 26 December | Boxing Day
- Monday 27 December | Additional public holiday for Christmas Day
- Tuesday 28 December – Additional public holiday for Boxing Day
- Saturday 1 January | New Year’s Day
- Monday 3 January | Additional public holiday for New Year’s Day
NEED MORE INFORMATION?
Akyra can help your business to assist and support all your questions and concerns related to your annual Christmas shutdown or complying with your obligations if you remain open. Please contact Akyra on 07 3204 8830 or book a free 30-minute consultation for an obligation-free conversation.
Disclaimer – Reliance on Content
The material distributed is general information only. The information supplied is not intended to be legal or other professional advice, nor should it be relied upon as such. You should seek legal or professional advice in relation to your specific situation.