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How to handle temporary shutdowns

Many Australian businesses temporarily shut down at some point during the year, commonly over the Christmas-New Years period. With a bit of preparation and know-how, employers can manage the annual shutdown seamlessly and lawfully.

For most of us, the lead up to Christmas is a hectic time. Work and personal commitments can escalate in the rush to Christmas Day.

While sectors like retail and hospitality enter one of their busiest times of year, many industries prepare to wind down for a summer break and (usually) the “regular annual shutdown.”

Before you shut up shop, there can be a lot to get done, last orders, final repairs, gifts for clients, December billing, Christmas functions, and a busy personal life.

Like everything in Australian employment law, any temporary shutdown requires that your business follows a process and if you don’t get it right, it can cause unnecessary hassle.

With a little bit of preparation, the annual shutdown can be seamless and not get in the way of everything else that’s happening.

Here are some key considerations if you are planning to shut your business for a short time:

  • Check the clause covering shutdowns in the relevant modern award or registered agreement – this could prescribe shutdown provisions and what your obligations are towards your workers.

  • Decide if you can and will require employees to use paid annual leave (or other forms of leave) over the shutdown period – again, your relevant award or agreement may well cover this.

  • Notify your people with a simple letter as soon as you can – it’s common for awards to stipulate at least 28 days’ written notice of the shutdown period.

  • Be prepared to speak to people so you can deal with issues effectively and get the right outcome for the business and staff.

  • Then enjoy the break!

Need help, get in touch to talk about your office closure preparations.

Graham Burfield
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