Summer closedown period: Rules for employers

Many not-for-profit organisations will be closing over the summer break. The information below explains employers’ and employees’ rights during this time.

What is a closedown period?

Closedown period means a period during which the employer customarily closes the Employer’s operations or discontinues the work of one or more Employees and requires his or her Employees to take all or some of their annual holidays. Closedown periods might occur for a time over winter for a beach resort, or more commonly over Christmas and New Year.

How often can I have a closedown period?

Businesses can only impose one closedown period per employee in each year. However you can have different closedowns for different parts of the business, such as the factory and the office. Employers are free to agree with Employees on any other times when they might take holidays or might discontinue work, or might take unpaid leave.

Closedown notice

Employers must give at least 14 days’ notice of a closedown and the requirement to take annual holidays or discontinue work.

Can I require employees to take annual holidays during a closedown?

Yes, you can require employees to take annual holidays during a closedown whether or not they agree to do so.

What is the maximum length of a closedown?

The law does not specify a maximum closedown length. That is up to the employer.

Public holidays during closedown

If a public holiday falls during a closedown period then the day, if its observance falls on an otherwise work day, is paid for and treated as a public holiday and not as part of any annual holiday.

Advantages for employers operating a closedown period

By choosing to operate a closedown period, employers ensure that employees use a portion of their annual holidays at a convenient time for the employer.

There are many benefits:

  • Less impact on productivity than if Employees with key skill sets took holidays during busy periods;
  • Reduction in labour cost by not having to temporarily back fill for Employees who are on holiday;
  • Reduction in plant operating costs (e.g. electricity);
  • Maintenance able to be scheduled.

Employers can also book their own holidays during the closedown with less need for management cover.

Source: Employers Assistance Ltd