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Shutting down over Christmas and New Year? Know your obligations

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Many small businesses shut down over the Christmas and New Year period due to slow trade or business. It is important to understand your obligations and the rights of your employees before you do.  Some of your obligations include giving notice of the shut down period and understanding how to manage employees that may not have sufficient annual leave to cover the shut down period, for example unpaid leave or leave in advance. 

Under some awards and registered agreements employees can be directed to take annual leave over this period, but in other awards and agreements no leave requirements are stipulated.  When this is the case, employers and employees can agree the terms of leave, such as unpaid leave or leave in advance.  If an agreement can’t be reached, an employer can’t force the employee to take leave, the employee will continue to work and be paid as normal.

If you direct your employees to take leave and it is not a condition under their award or agreement, there could be fallouts that are costly not only financially, but also detrimental to trust and company culture. 

If you require assistance in determining your obligations and requirements, it is best to seek sound advice. Mistakes can happen, particularly in workplaces where businesses have employees under multiple awards and agreements. If an error has been made, be open with your employees, and obtain advice to determine the best possible solution.