A shut down can occur where an employer temporarily shuts down its workplace. Typically, a shut down can occur during slow business periods. For some businesses, particularly in manufacturing or offices this may occur at Christmas or New Year.

Can An Employer Direct An Employee To Take Leave During A Shut Down Period?

An employer can require an award free employee to take annual leave during a period of shut down; however the requirement must be reasonable.

The factors that can be taken into account in the consideration of what is reasonable are:

  • The needs of both the employee and the employer’s business;
  • Any arrangements made between employer and employee;
  • The timing of the direction to take the annual leave; and
  • The reasonableness of the period of notice given to the employee to take leave.

Does The Employee Have To Take Leave During The Shut Down Period?

An employer can require an employee to take leave in the shut down period if this requirement is provided for in an applicable Modern Award, Enterprise Agreement or contract of employment. However, a certain period of notice may be designated in the industrial instrument.

For example, the General Retail Modern Award 2012, at clause 32 provides that an employer may require that an employee take annual leave during a period of shut down in operations by giving at least 4 weeks’ notice.

What If The Employee Does Not Have Enough Annual Leave Accrued At The Time Of The Shut Down?

An employer can request and an employee can agree to take annual leave in advance or the employee can take unpaid leave during the shut down period.

About Employment Innovations

Employment Innovations is one of Australia’s leading providers of employment services designed to increase productivity and ensure compliance. Its services and solutions include all the tools that every Australian small to medium sized employer needs – including workplace advice, legal services, payroll solutions, migration, human resource management and HR software.


The information provided in this knowledge base article is general in nature and is not intended to substitute for professional advice. If you are unsure about how this information applies to your specific situation we recommend you contact Employment Innovations for advice.

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