It has been common practice for employers to direct their employees to take unpaid leave during temporary shutdown periods like Christmas. From May 1st this will no longer be an option for many award covered employers including Hospitality Industry Award 2020, Building and Construction General On-site Award 2020 and Higher Industry- General Staff- Award 2020.

In December last year the Fair Work Commission included a new annual shut down model to be applied to 77 modern awards. The new provision allows employees with insufficient accrued leave the right to say no to taking unpaid leave, leaving them with the choice of continuing to work during shutdown or if there are no suitable duties, be paid additional annual leave while not working.

Employers must comply with new notice requirements such as giving their employees 28 days written notice before a temporary shutdown begins and should plan ahead for proposed Christmas shutdowns and ensure their leave policies are updated to reflect the new changes.