Preparing for Christmas Shutdown

Christmas Shutdown, Annual Leave

Coming into December many organisations observe a shutdown over the Christmas New Year period. However, determining employees pay during this time can be complicated. Payment can vary between Awards, so it is important to know your employee’s coverage.

Casual employees are not entitled to annual leave so are unpaid during a shutdown period. Permanent employees can be requested to take paid annual leave or unpaid leave if they have used their leave balance.

Employees can be directed to take annual leave during a shutdown if the award or agreement allows it. Most awards include rules about when an employee can be directed to take leave, commonly this requires 4 weeks’ notice.  Award free employees can also be requested to take a period of annual leave or unpaid leave, so long as the request is reasonable as outlined in the National Employment Standards.

There are many public holidays during this period, Western Australia public holidays include:

  • Christmas Day Saturday 25th of December
  • Boxing Day Sunday 26th of December
  • Christmas Day (in lieu) Monday 27th of December
  • Boxing Day (in lieu) Tuesday 28th of December
  • New Year’s Day Saturday 1st of January
  • New Year’s Day (in lieu) Monday 3rd of January

If a public holiday falls on a day that an employee usually works (e.g. Monday to Friday), they are paid as if they worked without using their annual leave balance. However, for the regular working days that are not public holidays, employees can be requested to use their annual leave.

Employees must provide adequate notice of their intent to take annual leave, typically 2-4 weeks in advance. Employers cannot unreasonably refuse a request to take annual leave. For reasons why annual leave may be refused read here.

If you have queries about anything above and want advice personalised to your business, contact us on (08) 9316 9896, or email

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Written by Danielle McNamee


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Marisa Ross

HR Advisor

Marisa is an experienced and motivated HR professional with a strong HR generalist and business operations background with a focus on employee relations, performance management, leadership training & development, workers compensation & injury management, and employee retention. Marisa holds a Bachelor of Human Resource Management and a Bachelor of Behavioural Science with a minor in Counselling. Having worked in a variety of industries from SMEs to large blue-chip organisations, Marisa is passionate about enriching employee experience, employee retention, and building leadership capability in people management.

Aimee Grigson

Aimee Grigson

WHS Advisor

Aimee has a strong understanding of Workplace Health and Safety Legislation and standards and has extensive HSEQ experience in a number of industries. Aimee has a great ability to engage across all levels of organisation, including field teams, leadership and external stakeholders. Aimee ensures Health and Safety Management Systems are compliant to legislation, effectively implemented and understood by all. Aimee has a Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety and qualifications in auditing and incident investigations. Aimee is passionate about coaching and developing small businesses towards a positive safety culture.