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Our Most Commonly Asked Questions On Christmas Closures And Staffing

Regardless of whether your business shuts down over Christmas or remains open, managing requests for Christmas leave is a delicate task. 

To help you, here are the answers to our most commonly asked questions.

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Q: I’m closing my business for 2 weeks over the Christmas period. Can I tell my employees they must take leave then?

A: It depends on the Award or Agreement that applies to each staff member. If it says you can tell your employees to take leave at a particular time, then you can - providing you follow any rules or processes that are included in the Award or Agreement.

If the Award or Agreement doesn’t cover shutdowns, you can’t force employees to use their leave at a particular time. In this situation, you will need to negotiate with them to take paid or unpaid leave.

If your staff are not covered by an Award or Agreement, you can make a reasonable request to take leave as long as you follow due process.

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Q: What happens if an employee has insufficient leave to cover the Christmas shutdown period?

A: Again, it will depend on their Award or Agreement. Some Awards have provisions for employees to receive unpaid leave during shutdowns. Otherwise, you will need to negotiate with your employee to either take annual leave in advance (providing the Award or Agreement doesn’t prohibit it) or take unpaid leave.

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Q: Do annual leave days include public holidays?

A: No. Public holidays such as Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day are treated as public holidays – not annual leave days.

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Q: We need to open between Christmas and New Year but everyone wants to take holidays then. How do I manage the high demand for leave?

A: In this situation, you need to ensure you are fair and transparent in your dealings with all staff.

If it’s important for staff to be available to work over the Christmas/New Year period, this expectation should be clearly addressed during the recruitment phase and throughout the year to build a culture of availability.

If you only require a skeleton staff to manage the business, it’s important you treat all leave requests with transparency and fairness. Don’t fall into the trap of allowing some staff to believe they are entitled to this time off when others are always required to work. Everyone should have equal access to take leave at this popular time of the year.

Where there is a conflict between staff, help them negotiate a compromise they can all live with or consider drawing up a roster so everyone takes it in turns. Remember, as the manager or business owner, you also need to take your turn to work between Christmas and New Year.

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For advice on how to handle leave requests and business closures, talk to the team at End2End Business Solutions.