My practice is shutting down over the Christmas and New Year holidays. While I am being paid my base rate of pay for the public holidays (as they are my normally rostered days of work), the practice manager has informed me that I will be required to take days of annual leave over the closure dates which are not considered public holidays. Is this in line with the NTCER?

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Yes – this is entirely consistent with the National Employment Standards (NES), which are the minimum standards applying to the employment of employees defined in the Fair Work Act, and on which the NTCER is based.

According to the NES, “an employer may require an … employee to take a period of paid annual leave, but only if the requirement is reasonable” (Fair Work Act cl. 94(5)).

A requirement to take annual leave would be considered reasonable if the employer’s enterprise is being shut down for a period such as between Christmas and New Year.

This means that if the practice shuts down for a holiday period (for example, Christmas or Easter) you may have to use your annual leave for this period. This is reasonable as there will be no clients, no staff and no work during the shutdown period.

Usually, the practice would have an appropriate policy on this and it would also be discussed with you well in advance, ideally up front during employment negotiations and documented your employment agreement prior to signing off.

If you have not accumulated enough annual leave to cover the practice’s shutdown period, then the NTCER allows for access to leave in advance of accrual, by negotiation (NTCER cl. 6.1), if this is within your maximum entitlement, otherwise leave without pay would be required.