December is when people start winding down for Christmas holidays. If you run a business there are some rules you need to follow when managing an Annual Shutdown.
What is an Annual Shutdown?
It’s when an employer can temporarily close their business down during a slow business period. For example, the construction and manufacturing sectors usually close down at Christmas time.
I remember a couple of years ago when we were building our house, there was a huge push to be in before Christmas because we knew it would be almost impossible to get any tradesmen to work over Christmas or before late January. So if the job wasn’t done in that last week before Christmas, it wasn’t getting done for another month. On the last couple of days the tradesmen were just about tripping over each other – but we got in!
Do employees have to take leave?
You can require your employees to take leave if
- their Award or agreement allows it or
- if they are not covered by an Award or agreement.
If you have staff who have accrued a backlog of annual leave, shutdown is a good way to get them to take some of their entitlements.
It must be remembered though, that any request for staff to take annual leave must be ‘reasonable’.
How do I let staff know of an intended shutdown?
Under Fair Work legislation it is a requirement that you give your staff written notice of the planned shutdown. The Award your staff operate under determines the amount of notice required – eg some construction awards require notice of 2 months whilst various clerical awards require notice of at least 4 weeks.
Check with your appropriate Award for information on notice periods.
NOTE: Fair Work has updated the shut down rules as of May 2023 – see this article for more information.
For more information check the Fair Work Website – Annual Shut Downs
And if you need Employment Contracts for your staff, you can check out our DIY Employment Contract Kits which comply with all of the requirements of the National Employment Standards and the Fair Work Act.