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 i