Many queries that Workwise Advisory Services receives surrounds the subject of employees who have accrued many weeks of annual leave, in some cases up to 10 or 12 weeks of leave has been accrued. This would indicate that the employee hasn’t had any paid annual leave for two to three years, which just shouldn’t be happening.
So, employers who are asking if they ‘can make an employee take the leave’, the short answer is yes, HOWEVER, the capacity for an employer to require the leave to be taken is limited by statute and is also moderated by both the National Employment Standards (NES) and the applicable Award. An employer is required to not ‘unreasonably’ refuse requests for annual leave by an employee but you must be aware of what limitations there are. For example, many Modern Awards (federal system) refer to an ‘excessive’ period as being 8 weeks (304 hours) and an employer must provide notice of at least 4 weeks for excessive leave to be taken. There is also a requirement to maintain a certain level of leave ‘in the kitty’ so to speak.
Ultimately, it is an employer’s best interest to have a clearly articulated Policy in place which specifies the Company’s position on applications for leave, the approval process, any periods of the year when – due to heavy operational demands – the leave would not normally be granted and other related matters. This would also include any annual shutdown-a very common practice across many businesses (including Workwise Advisory Services itself) that is lawfully supported within industrial relations legislation both State and Federal.
Employers who are currently ‘Members’ of Workwise Advisory Services will have received an extended ‘Workwise Words’ bulletin surrounding annual leave and Long Service Leave.