Ombudsman reminds businesses about holiday rules

With the end-of-year holiday season fast approaching, the Fair Work ombudsman has reminded employers to start planning how their businesses will operate during that period.

Some businesses will cut back on staffing or shut down, while others will get busier and need their employees to work more hours (including public holidays).

Employers can ask staff to work overtime or on public holidays if the request is reasonable – but staff can refuse if they have reasonable grounds.

Whether a request is reasonable depends on:

  • The needs of the business
  • How much notice the business provides
  • The employee's role
  • The employee's personal commitments
  • What the employee's contract says


Forced leave during a shutdown

An employer can direct employees to take annual leave during a shutdown if their award or registered agreement allows it. 

If no award or agreement applies, employers can only direct the employee to take annual leave if the direction is reasonable.

For employees without enough annual leave to cover a shutdown – employees can agree to take unpaid leave or annual leave before it's been accrued, provided the award or agreement allows it.


Working during a shutdown

Businesses need to pay employees as per normal if they continue working during a shutdown.

For public holidays during a shutdown, staff should either be given the day off without loss of pay or be paid the public holiday rates stipulated in their award or agreement.


More information

The Fair Work Ombudsman is holding a free webinar to help employers understand their workplace obligations during this holiday season.

The webinar will be held on December 8 at 10am and at 5:30pm AEDT.

Published: 1/1/1

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