Are you aware of the annual leave rules? Brush up before Christmas and New Year
The Sector > Jobs News > Are you aware of the annual leave rules? Brush up before Christmas and New Year

Are you aware of the annual leave rules? Brush up before Christmas and New Year

by Freya Lucas

December 09, 2022

Annual leave is always a “hot topic” at this time of year. Can your service make you use your annual leave when they close? What happens if everyone wants to take Christmas Eve as annual leave? How do you request annual leave? 


The guide below has been prepared based on the latest advice from the Fair Work Ombudsman. Readers should cross reference this advice with the policies and procedures relevant to their context. 


Annual leave accumulates based on an employee’s ordinary hours of work, and allows for employees to take paid time off from work. 


How do you request to take annual leave?


Early childhood education and care (ECEC) employees must make a request for annual leave before taking it, which may or may not be granted, depending on the operational needs of the business. 


For example, if ten educators all requested to take annual leave on the same day, not all of these requests would be granted because it would be challenging for a provider to cover ten educators in the current workforce environment. 


The process for requesting leave, in terms of the medium (phone, email, verbal request) and notice period required will vary from context to context, but is often outlined in an award or registered agreement, company policy or contract of employment.


An employer can only refuse an employee’s request for annual leave if the refusal is reasonable.


Can I take annual leave before I’ve earned it? 


In some instances, an employee may not have enough annual leave to cover any closure periods of the service over Christmas and New Year, or may need to take more annual leave than they have accrued. 


In these cases, employees can take annual leave in advance as long as their employer agrees in writing. The agreement needs to: 


  • be signed by both the employer and the employee (if the employee is under 18 their parent or guardian must also sign it)
  • say how much annual leave is being taken in advance
  • say the day the leave will start.


Employers have to keep this agreement for the employee’s records.


If an employee takes leave in advance and their employment ends before they’ve accrued it all back, the employer can deduct the amount still owing from their final pay.


Employers and employees can use the Annual leave in advance template to record annual leave taken in advance.


What if I have too much leave? 


Once the amount of annual leave held by any one employee is bigger than eight weeks worth of leave (ten weeks for a shift worker) it’s considered to be excessive. 


When this happens, an employee can give their employer notice that they intend to take a period of leave, which their employer has to allow. This only applies if the employee: 


  • hasn’t been able to agree with their employer about when to take the leave
  • has had an excessive annual leave balance for more than six months
  • doesn’t have arrangements to take leave so that they no longer have an excessive annual leave balance (e.g. directed by the employer to take leave or already have planned leave).


The employee needs to give the employer at least eight weeks’ notice (and not more than 12 months) of when the leave will start. The leave has to be at least one week long and can’t result in the employee having less than six weeks accrued leave.


An employee can’t request leave using this method for more than four weeks (five weeks for a shiftworker) in a 12 month period. 


How much annual leave can be taken at any one time? 


There’s no minimum or maximum amount of annual leave that can be taken at a time. Provided both parties agree, an employee can take a part day, single day or a number of days or weeks off.


Employees don’t need to take all of their annual leave at once.


Where can I go for more help? 



For advice specific to the Children’s Service’s Award please see here.

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