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What you need to know about the new shutdown rules for awards

Many awards will have new rules on temporary shutdowns from 1 May 2023, including the Health Professionals and Support Services Award.

What’s changing?

From 1 May 2023, the Health Professionals and Support Services Award will have updated rules on directing the taking of annual leave during a shutdown. Please be sure to review these rules and ensure you are meeting these as a minimum.

As a reminder, a temporary shutdown is when a practice chooses to temporarily shut down all or part of the business for a particular period, for example, over the Christmas / New Year period. 

What do the new rules mean?

You can still have a temporary shutdown of the practice, and you can still direct your employees to take annual leave during this time. However, the changes introduce additional requirements, particularly in regard to notice of the shutdown, to now meet the Award standard:

  • Employers may require employees to take paid annual leave during a temporary shutdown.
  • The requirement to take annual leave must be reasonable – for example, an 8-week temporary shutdown would be considered unreasonable (this being twice the annual amount of leave provided to employees), whereas a 2-week close would be acceptable.
  • Employers must provide at least 28 days’ written notice of the temporary shutdown period to all impacted employees.
  • The notice period can be reduced through an agreement between the employer and the majority of impacted employees – but where possible, we recommend advising staff earlier rather than later. You should be planning by the end of October at latest if you plan to close for a period of time over the festive season, this will allow staff to plan their own time as well as ensure patients are minimally impacted over the close-down period.
  • Where an employee doesn’t have enough paid annual leave to cover the whole period, an agreement can be made with the employer for other options for the days not covered, such as:
    • using accrued time off
    • annual leave in advance, or
    • leave without pay.

The employee will be paid for any public holidays during the shutdown period that falls on days they would normally work.

Please remember that if you hire a team member after you have given the initial notice of the shutdown, you must give that employee notice as soon as reasonably possible. It is always good to mention this in the interview process and then cover off in the contract of employment.

Learn more about shutdowns at Direction to take annual leave during a shutdown.

You can use the Fair Work Notice of requirements to take annual leave for temporary shutdown when directing employees to take annual leave during a shutdown.

Prime Practice HR Solutions provides you with a specialist HR expert to help you across all elements relating to your team.

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