It is common for employers to close down over the traditionally slow Christmas shutdown and New Year period.
During this Christmas shutdown period, employers need to be aware of their obligations, particularly in regards to annual leave. Generally, full-time and part-time employees need to be paid their usual wages unless their award or agreement says otherwise.
Most modern awards and enterprise agreements will set out the rules and requirements about notifying staff and what should happen during the Christmas shutdown. While a provision regarding annual close-down is not prescribed in every modern award; most shutdowns are subject to a period of notice (typically four weeks) to be given to staff.
If the award or agreement says you can tell your employees to take leave then employers are allowed to give directions for leave. However, if the award or agreement does not contain instructions about Christmas shutdown or directions to take leave, employers cannot force employees to use their leave.
For employees who are not covered by an award or agreement; employers can direct them to take annual leave if the direction is reasonable.