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The Festive Season is here! – What employers need to know


With the festive season creeping in, employers need to be aware of the entitlements and rules that apply whilst their business operates during the end of year holiday season.

During this season, business activity can increase for many employers, requiring their employees to work more hours and possibly public holidays. On the same note, other employers may request their employees take leave (shutdown).

On 25 August 2022 the Commission’s decision to replace the existing shutdown model clause on ‘Direction to take annual leave during shutdown’ has affected 78 Modern Awards.

What is the difference between shutdown and stand downs?

Stand down

Stand down is initiated by an employer informing employees not to work for a period of time due to reasons outside the employer’s control, i.e., industrial action, equipment breakdown, inclement weather.

This is typically borne from an urgent set of circumstances beyond the employer’s control.

Shut down

Shut down occurs where a business or employers choose to temporarily close down a part or all of the business for a particular period, i.e., Christmas and/or New Year. During this period employees can be directed to take annual leave.

This is considered an organised and communicated close of business, intended for various reasons.


The following provides a summary of rules employers should keep in mind:

  • Employers intending to shut down all or part of its operation during this period are required to request relevant award covered employees to take annual leave during shutdown. This must be reasonable, in writing and if applicable, within the required notice period (28 days).
  • Employees can agree to take annual leave or leave without pay during the planned shutdown period.
  • If an employee continues to work when a business shuts down, they are entitled to their normal pay.
  • Employers must keep in mind that they cannot direct their employees to take annual leave during the shutdown period if the relevant award or agreement does not allow for it.

Navigating legislative requirements to fit your business requirements can be tricky, specifically trying to ensure you meet the necessary rules. Employers must consider if a relevant industrial instrument provides for the ability to direct or request employees to take a period of annual leave.

Working on public holidays or overtime

  • Employers can also request their employees to work overtime or public holidays, if the request is reasonable.
  • However, employees can refuse to work a public holiday based on reasonable grounds of their personal circumstances (e.g., caring responsibilities), the amount of notice provided by the employer when making the request, if the employee is entitled to receive overtime payments or penalty rates, or if the request was unreasonable or any other relevant matter.

Connect with us

If you are a business that observes a shut down period and you would like to know more about your responsibility as an employer or the rules that apply whilst operating your business during the end of year holiday season, please contact us at and a Mapien Workplace Strategist will be in touch within 24 hours.

Written by
Jasvita Patel
Jasvita is an experienced professional with strong all-round HR/IR advisory skills. Her ability to easily build rapport and engage at all levels, allows Jasvita to gain a thorough understanding of client needs, which in turn brings forward resolution tailored to customer requirements and driven by high quality service.