How to ‘Close-Down’ or ‘Block-Out’ for the Christmas & New Year Period

Attention:  All Human Resource Advisors, Officers, Coordinators, Managers, Professionals, Supervisors, Assistants!

Temporary Close-Down

Where a business is closing for the Christmas and New Year period, ensure you provide each of your employees with the appropriate notice and/or leave options.

This may come from an employment contract, company policy or procedure, or an applicable industrial instrument (modern award, enterprise agreement or registered agreement).  Be sure to review and comply with any relevant terms and conditions.

For example:

– Some modern awards provide that at least four weeks’ notice is required to be given by the employer for a close-down period.

– Modern awards generally include a number of options with regards to leave, such as paid annual leave, annual leave in advance, TOIL, and more.

Check out our latest article ‘Annual Leave & Business Closures over the 2020 Christmas & New Year Period’ here for more information on the impact of COVID-19 on employees’ annual leave balances and closures.

In accordance with OR in the absence of any specific terms and conditions, we recommend providing all employees with written notice of the close-down dates and initiate conversations about employees’ leave options.

Temporary Block-Out

Some industries and businesses rely on a “block-out” period to manage the busy Christmas and New Year period.  A block-out period can prevent employees from taking annual leave during certain times of the year.

The Fair Work Act 2009 explains that an “employer must not unreasonably refuse to agree to a request by the employee to take paid annual leave”.

To ensure a block-out period is lawful, we recommend having a company policy which sets out the reasonable requirements surrounding the block-out period.  Be sure to inform employees about the policy, such as through staff training or a staff memo, prior to the block-out period so that there is no confusion among staff.

However, an employer should still review each annual leave request on a case by case basis to determine if it is reasonable to refuse such a request.

For example, consider:

– if the employee applied for leave in accordance with the company’s leave policy;

– how long the leave request is for;

– whether there are other staff members who may be able to cover the period of leave; and

– other contributing factors as well.

Leave Form or Agreement

With regards to leave, ensure:

– the company’s leave policy is followed;

– any period of leave is agreed and recorded in writing between the employer and the employee; and

– a copy of the leave form or agreement is placed on the employee’s personnel file as an employee record.

HR Business Assist 

For more information, contact the HR Business Assist Team.

P 1300 138 551

E info@hrbusinessassist.com.au

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