Can I be directed to take annual leave

Hi, welcome to Tips Tuesday. My name is Melanie Thorley, and I’m the Principal Solicitor at MJT Law. Today we’re going to talk about whether your employer can direct you to take annual leave during a shutdown. You can see first of all, we’ve got a Google page up. We’re going to look at the Fair Work Commission on this one. We’re going to go FWC and press enter. We’re going to go the Fair Work Commission’s website. We’re going to go up here and choose Creating fair workplaces, and we’re going to go down to Business transfers and shutdowns and closures. We’re going to click on that and then we’re going to scroll down and talk about temporary closures.

This website just talks a little bit about direction to take annual leave during a shutdown. An employee can be directed to take annual leave during a shutdown if their award or registered agreement allows for it. A shutdown is a temporary closure such as New Year or other times of the year. To find out whether you can be told when to take your annual leave, we’re going to look at the industry. If I click on this little box here, and you can see it brings down a number of choices, we’re going to work in the retail industry. It’s kind of my favorite one at the moment. Okay, so a sub-industry. Let’s click on this and we’ll bring it up. Now, retail sales, clerical at shop, clerical away from shop, fast food or takeaway, vehicle sales and repairs. We’re just going to put simple retail sales because it’s not always clear whether you’re one of the above here. We’re going to put retails sales, and we’re going to say here “Show information tailored for me”.

Now remember this is all very general advice, but it will hopefully give you some indication of whether your employer can direct you to take annual leave. We’re going to click on this now. Right, the retail award. It says a shutdown is a temporary closure. We know that already. It says here “Based on what you’ve told us, it looks like you’re covered by the General Retail Industry Award. You can go back into my Youtube tips and find out how to find your award and if that suits you. It says here you can be directed to take annual leave due to shutdown, but they have to give you four weeks’ notice before that leave needs to be taken. That’s really important that you get all that notice because of course if you don’t know whether you’re going to be taking this annual leave, then you can’t plan for it.

If you don’t have enough annual leave over the shutdown, you need to agree with the employee you can take annual leave in advance or unpaid leave. If an employee doesn’t agree to either, then they have to be paid their ordinary rate for the shutdown. They cannot be forced to take unpaid leave. This is a really interesting one, and it can cause some contentions. As an employee, if you don’t have enough annual leave to take it, you can agree to take annual leave in advance and/or unpaid leave, but you don’t have to either. There is a template letter that employees can use, but an employee will continue to accumulate annual leave only on paid leave during the shutdown. Remember, if you’re taking unpaid leave, then you’re not going to get the entitlement to accumulate. There are some problems with this of course, if you’re not under a registered agreement, or you think there might be a mistake. Look, if you’re being directed to take annual leave and you don’t want to take it you can always give us a call, but my suggestion is you have a chat to your employer first.

I hope this is of some help to you today. If you think this was good for you, then click on the Like button in the Youtube clip. Thanks for watching.