Christmas is just around the corner and many people will be taking a hard earned break over the quiet period. Although people are generally aware of what annual leave is, tricky situations can arise from time to time.

When this happens, HR Assured clients are relieved to know that they can speak with one of our experienced workplace relations consultants and seek advice anywhere and anytime.

Question 1: Can I refuse a request to take annual leave?

Answer: Yes.

You cannot unreasonably refuse a request to take annual leave. However, you could decline the request for a range of reasons such as because other staff will be on leave at that time, it’s a particularly busy time of the year for your business or because that person doesn’t have sufficient leave accrued.

Question 2: Can I direct someone to take a period of annual leave?

Answer: Yes.

You can direct an employee to take a period of annual leave, but there are certain conditions.

For example, most awards and enterprise agreements provide that an employer can direct an employee to take annual leave where that person has an excessive accrued leave balance. Similar provisions apply to employees who are not covered by an award or enterprise agreement. An ‘excessive’ leave balance is generally taken as being 8 weeks or more accrued leave, however, it is important to check the applicable award or enterprise agreement.

For employees covered by an award or enterprise agreement, the direction to take the leave generally be given in writing with at least 8 weeks’ notice and must not result in the employee’s remaining accrued entitlement to paid annual leave being less than 6 weeks.

Question 3: Do I have to pay leave loading?

Answer: It depends.

It is common for awards and enterprise agreements to provide that a ‘leave loading’ is payable on a period of annual leave. You must pay the leave loading if the worker is covered by an award or enterprise agreement that prescribes for it. Leave loading is typically 17.5%. The loading will be payable regardless of whether the leave is actually taken or paid out on termination.

Hot tip: most awards now provide that an employee can ‘cash out’ up to two weeks of paid annual leave in any 12 month period, so long as they have at least 4 weeks of accrued leave remaining. Similar provisions apply for award-free employees and some enterprise agreements.

For more information on the recommendations and what this means for you, clients should contact the HR Assured team. If you’d like more information about the benefits of becoming an HR Assured client contact us today for an informal chat.