When does 4 + 3 = 11? When it equals an 11-day holiday over Christmas-New Year!
This is the holiday equation everyone’s talking about because workers are planning to stretch the Christmas break by applying for just four days’ annual leave. Added to the three upcoming public holidays (Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day) plus two weekends, it equals an 11-day vacation over Christmas-New Year.
The lead-up to Christmas can be hectic, so everyone wants a few additional days just to wind down after a busy year at work. Spending time with family and friends over the Christmas period is an Australian tradition as summer starts with barbecues and long hot days at the beach.
This year, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day are on Tuesdays, so employees looking for a summer getaway are already applying for their annual leave for the Christmas period.
But where does this leave businesses that need to keep operating over the holiday period? Cafes, restaurants, essential services such as hospitals, transport and emergency services, big name retailers, all need staff to keep operating. As an employer it’s worth planning well in advance for the Christmas period so you can be assured of business continuity.
As well as confirming holiday trading arrangements, you will be finalising company leave policy around the holiday period and this is the time to plan for end of year Christmas parties, staff bonuses and appreciations for employees and clients.
Planning in advance is the key to keeping employees happy with the holiday arrangements. It is best practice to let all staff know in advance in writing.
When you continue trading over the holiday period
You will need some of your full-time employees to work the public holidays as well as the usual working days between if you continue trading over the holiday period. Some staff enjoy working when others are on holiday and volunteer to work but others would prefer the time off.
Consider an incentive such as a prepaid gift card for those who are willing to give up their family time. A Visa Zero Balance card from Corporate Prepaid Gift Cards can be a great incentive that can be given in advance and activated with a variable bonus depending on the days worked.
The Fair Work Act has some rules around leave requests, so check out the website at fairwork.gov.au if you have any questions.
What’s a ‘reasonable request’?
You do have a right to make a ‘reasonable request’ for employees to work on a public holiday. If:
you run a 24/7 operation
the business usually operates on a public holiday (hospitality, hospitals, transport, essential services)
the work is time critical (agriculture, fresh produce)
the work is important to the overall economy (government agencies involved in essential services)
you ask the employee in advance (not the day before).
If you are asking staff to work on a public holiday you should make the conditions clear as soon as possible. Specify the hours of work, rate of pay and penalty rates if they apply.
Those who are on individual employment contracts won’t qualify for additional pay for working the days everyone wants off. Not everyone will agree to work if asked.
What’s a ‘reasonable refusal’?
If employees have family and caring responsibilities, they can make a ‘reasonable refusal’ to a request to work on a public holiday on the grounds of family responsibilities. Guidelines are in The Fair Work Act.
Personal circumstances may mean that family responsibilities or a short notice period can be regarded as ‘reasonable grounds’ to advise unavailability.
When you shut down over the holiday period
if your business is to be shut down over the Christmas break, you can ask your employees to use their annual leave entitlements for the three regular working days between Christmas and New Year.
Is there usually a shut down or have you previously asked staff to work over the Christmas period? Staff who have been with the company over a year will be expecting the arrangements to be the same as last year, so if there is a change, let them know well in advance.
If you do have a shut down, you may need to ask some staff to work over the shut-down period to keep the business essentials ticking over.
The key is to keep staff informed as early as possible, so they can make their arrangements for travel and get-togethers with family and friends.
Appreciate the staff who volunteer to work during the holiday period
Whether staff are required to work over the Christmas break or use it for an extended time off from the workplace, they all enjoy an appreciation at the end of the year.
Take a lead from the majority of the top 500 companies and use prepaid gift cards as an incentive and reward for staff as well as your valued clients. Over 300 of the top performing companies have chosen gift cards as rewards because they are universally popular with recipients. A gift card from Corporate Prepaid Cards gives them the pleasure of buying whatever they want, anywhere they like.
Selecting prepaid gift cards as an appreciation for staff and clients at Christmas is guaranteed to be welcomed. Surveys of gift giving show that gift cards are preferred as a reward over cash or other gifts because they give the recipient the power of choice. The gift they buy for themselves is always exactly what they want – that’s the value of giving a prepaid card.
Gift cards have an implied benefit for the company as they build loyalty and staff feel valued. Every time a custom-branded prepaid gift card is taken from the wallet, it is a reminder of where it came from, who gave it and why.
Discuss your requirements with Corporate Prepaid Gift Cards, the experts in custom designed gift cards. Now is the time to order for delivery in advance of end of year arrangements. You can choose from VISA, Mastercard and eftpos cards with festive and holiday themes. See the range on the website corporateprepaidgiftcards.com.au/christmas-gift-cards.
Personalising a gift card with your company’s logo is a unique way to remind staff and clients of your business. Once your design is finalised you can order small runs of up to 200 cards that can be delivered within 10 business days.
Cards come with a gift card presentation wallet that includes detailed information on the card activation process, as well as how to check the card balance and view transactions online.