• CMI Legal

Can You Be Forced to Take Annual Leave?

Although 2020 has been different to say the least, we still have the holidays to look forward to (so let us not declare the year a write-off just yet!). As the season rolls around every year, most employees have had been directed by employers to "clear" their annual leave days, which begs the question: Can you be forced to take leave?

Photograph by Olenka Sergienko

According to the Fair Work Ombudsman, you can only be directed by your employer to take annual leave when:

  • The business closes during a holiday period, normally during Christmas and New Year; and/or

  • You have accrued excess annual leave.

Certain employment agreements (i.e. a registered agreement) may stipulate when you can be directed by your employer to take excess annual leave, or how many days’ leave is considered as “excess”. If an agreement does not specify such terms, then direction must be reasonable.

Some factors for determining reasonableness include, but are not limited to:

  • The needs of the business as well as the employee;

  • Any pre-agreed arrangements between the employer and employee;

  • The notice period provided to the employee to take annual leave; and

  • What is the usual operational arrangement of the business.

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