Many organisations like to close down for a short or longer period over the Festive Season. Sometimes the amount of Public Holidays make the few days in between seem pointless for opening the business. At this time, many suppliers are also closed, so your supply chain may not be functioning as well as it should and your clients may also be away, so trying to organise meetings and progress jobs, at this time is fruitless.
If you are thinking about having a shutdown over Christmas, there are a few things you need to consider.
Start by planning the time around that period, how many public holidays are there and when do they fall. This year Christmas day is on Wednesday 25th December with the Boxing Day Holiday on Thursday 26th December. This means that in that week, there are only working days on Monday, Tuesday and Friday. The following week is similar with New Year’s Day public holiday on Wednesday 1 January 2020.
Map out the weeks before, during and just after New Year and work out what is the best work pattern for the organisation and your staff.
Understand what Award coverage all your workers fall under and check the respective Awards for any legislation around annual Shut-Down Periods. Your organisation may have workers under a number of different awards and these may have different ways of dealing with Shut-Down Periods. Many awards stipulate that you must notify your workers of any Close Down period at least four weeks prior. This means that you must notify, and put into writing at least by mid November to be compliant. However you do need to check all awards that are used in your organisation.
As part of your leave policy, notate your Annual Close Down and communicate to employees when this generally is each year, and what the rules for taking leave at this time are. You can advise employees that they are required to take annual leave during this period (in accordance with any Award requirements) and if they do not have enough annual leave, then unpaid leave is to be taken at this time. You can also stipulate if the Festive Season is your most busy time, that employees are not to apply for leave during this period, and only in exceptional circumstances will any leave be allowed.
It is your Policy and as long as your workers agree and it is not in breach of any Workplace Laws, the National Employment Standards or your Award coverage, you can create workplace rules that work for your business and your workers. Perhaps you want to write into a policy that work for the year, ends at midday on Christmas Eve or that for the week before Christmas you will allow all workers to leave work one hour earlier to facilitate Christmas preparations. Don’t forget not every worker may celebrate Christmas and some may celebrate at different times, so you could work on a culturally aware policy to ensure everyone is included.
Any policy must be communicated to employees, who must not only read, understand and agree to it, but all employees should sign that they have read, understood and agree to comply with the policy.
Closing down at Christmas, if possible for your organisation can be a great positive for your team members. At the end of the year, everyone becomes tired. Workers can become burnt out, ideas and motivation stagnate, tempers can run short and a focus on the ‘silly season’ can reduce focus on work. Having a break will rejuvenate your team, give them time with family and to come back to work refreshed and ready for the year ahead! Just make sure you do it right.
Important Note: These articles have been prepared for general circulation and are circulated for general informational purposes only; these articles should not be regarded as business or investment advice. The articles represent the views of the writers and are subject to change without notice. Additionally, while every care has been taken in the preparation of the articles no representation or warranty as to accuracy or completeness of any statement is given. An individual or organisation should, before any business or investment decision is made, consider the appropriateness of the information in this document, and seek professional advice, having regard to objectives, situation and needs. This document is solely for the use of the party to whom it is provided.