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Can I direct my employees to take annual leave and, if so, in what circumstances?

An employee can be directed to take annual leave in the following circumstances:

  • during a period of shut down (such as between Christmas and New Year)
  • if the employee has an excessive accumulated annual leave balance

However, the employer’s requirement or direction to take leave must be reasonable. You should consider the following factors:

  • reasonableness of the notice period given (usually 1 month notice)
  • the needs, custom and practice of the business
  • any previously agreed arrangements with an employee

Modern awards and enterprise agreements often provide clauses dealing with directions to take annual leave, which should be consulted when considering a directive of this nature.

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