Can an employer force you to take annual leave?

In Australia, an employer generally cannot force an employee to take annual leave without the employee's consent. Annual leave is a benefit and entitlement for employees, who have the right to request and use their annual leave at a mutually agreed time with their employer.

However, there are some circumstances where an employer may be able to require an employee to take annual leave.

Shutdown periods

Some industries or businesses may have scheduled shutdown periods, such as during the Christmas and New Year holidays or for maintenance purposes. In these cases, an employer may require employees to take annual leave during these periods, but they must usually provide sufficient notice and consult with employees about the timing.

Excessive annual leave accrual

If an employee has gained a large amount of annual leave that is considered excessive (varies by state and territory, but typically around 8 weeks or more), the employer and employee may agree to take some of that leave to reduce the leave balance. If an agreement cannot be reached, the employer may apply to the Fair Work Commission for approval to direct the employee to take leave.

Termination of employment

When an employee resigns or their employer terminates their employment, they may need to use any outstanding annual leave during the notice period. This can help both parties avoid large leave payouts or liabilities at the end of employment.

It's important to consult the Fair Work Act 2009 and any applicable Modern Awards or Enterprise Agreements for specific details and requirements related to annual leave in Australia. Plus, seeking legal advice or contacting the Fair Work Ombudsman can provide further clarification on individual situations and rights regarding annual leave.

For more information about annual leave, click the button below to read our post on whether someone can resign while taking leave.

Can an employer force you to take annual leave?

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