Do you hear it in your head? That little tune that everyone starts to sing, hum or tap along to around this time of the year? “It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas…”. Yep, Christmas is just around the corner. And your staff are beginning to talk about what’s to come. Holidays. The Christmas party. Secret Santa.

But before you start focusing your energy on planning the best Christmas “partay” for your employees, you first need to make sure you are meeting your obligations concerning your employees during your shutdown period over Christmas. It’s not as glamorous or as fun as deciding the theme for your Christmas party, but it’s one of those small things often overlooked by employers.

If your employees are covered by an award or agreement, please go to to review their advice around this.

here are some 5 best practices around shutdown periods.

  1. Know your award or agreement rules.
  2. Have a policy and procedure so your employees know the process. This may be a general leave policy that has a section on your shutdown period.
  3. Give employees plenty of notice regarding the dates of your shutdown (at least 2 months, if not more). These dates may be similar each year, but not necessarily the same. So, confirmation of dates is important.
  4. If you have new employees who started with you within 5-6 months of the Christmas shutdown, they may not have accrued enough leave. You must understand your approach to leave in advance and unpaid leave. If this is covered in your award or agreement, become familiar with this and provide this information to your employees. If you do not have rules about annual leave as part of an award or agreement, then this shutdown period is a mutually agreed arrangement. NOTE: an employee cannot be forced to take unpaid leave.
  5. When you are calculating annual leave, ensure you factor in the public holidays, these are paid as normal hours. If an employee works during your shutdown period they are paid normally, including public holidays.

If you would like some help putting together a leave policy, get in touch with us at businessDEPOT People + Culture.


Originally authored by Anna Chipperfield.