Know your rights at work – Christmas edition
As the festive season fast approaches (is it nearly 2020 already?!) this blog post serves as an important reminder of what your workplace rights are over the festive season.
Remember, your first port of call is your contract of employment, your modern award (check if one applies here) or your enterprise agreement (EA).
Can my employer force me to take annual leave over the holiday period?
Many businesses shut down over the Christmas – New Year holiday period. During this time your employer can direct you to take annual leave, provided they do so in accordance with your contract/award/EA. This may involve giving you notice of the direction, and ensuring the direction is reasonable.
An employer can direct an employee to take annual leave even if they do not have enough leave accrued. This will be taken as unpaid leave. In some circumstances you can negotiate with your employer to take leave in advance.
Remember, if a public holiday falls during the annual leave period (for example, Christmas day), you will be paid for the public holiday (base rate of pay) and not in annual leave. If you are a casual you will not be entitled to payment for any day you do not work.
If you are not directed to take annual leave, you will be paid as normal. If you are required to work on a public holiday, you will be paid public holiday rates in accordance with the applicable modern award/EA.
Can my employer say no to my annual leave request?
The National Employment Standards provides all employees (except casual employees) 4 weeks of annual leave per year based on their ordinary hours of work. A modern award/EA may provide more leave than this, including for shift workers.
You must make a request to your employer to take annual leave before going on annual leave. The process for making a request may be set out in your contract of employment, an internal policy at your place of work, your modern award or EA. If in doubt, speak to your boss.
Your employer can only refuse an employee’s request for annual leave if the refusal is reasonable, taking into account the needs of the business. It is essential to ask for leave promptly and be honest about the amount you will take.
I’m a casual – how much should I be paid over the Christmas season?
Make sure to consult your contract of employment, modern award or EA. The Fair Work Ombudsman Pay and Conditions Tool will also make it easy to identify your hourly rates and conditions – check it out here.