How you can refuse to take annual leave during COVID-19 lockdown 

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How you can refuse to take annual leave during COVID-19 lockdown 

How you can REFUSE to take annual leave during the COVID-19 lockdown - as lawyers reveal the only two reasons you can be forced to tak

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How you can REFUSE to take annual leave during the COVID-19 lockdown – as lawyers reveal the only two reasons you can be forced to take time off

  • Staff forced by their employers to take annual leave during ongoing pandemic
  • Generally, annual leave should be taken by agreement between two parties
  • There are specific circumstances where employees don’t have to comply
  •  Employers under JobKeeper can legally order staff to take paid annual leave

Workers forced to take annual leave during the ongoing coronavirus lockdown are being urged to check their rights.

Lawyer sisters Alison and Jillian Barrett from Maurice Blackburn say many employees could be in a position to refuse orders to take leave now if they want to accrue for a later date.

The general rule is that annual leave should be taken by agreement between the employer and employee and not be forced.

But there are two specific circumstances where employers can force their staff to take leave, including if excessive hours have been accrued or if they’ve qualified for JobKeeper.

Staff being forced to take annual leave during the pandemic are urged to check their right as they may not have to not comply with their employers' request (stock image)

Staff being forced to take annual leave during the pandemic are urged to check their right as they may not have to not comply with their employers’ request (stock image)

There are certain awards and registered agreements that allow employers to force staff to take annual leave, particularly if they’ve accrued excessive hours. 

‘There may be rules about when an employer can direct an employee to take their leave (eg if their leave balance is excessive), how much notice the employee should receive in advance of having to take the leave and how much leave they can be directed to take,’ the sisters wrote for news.com.au.

If you aren’t covered under an award or an agreement, your employer can only make you take leave annual leave if their direction is ‘reasonable’.

For example, giving a few days’ notice to take two weeks leave could be deemed as an unreasonable request. 

Workers unsure on whether they can refuse a request to take annual leave are urged to seek legal advice. Pictured are Sydney restaurant workers on June 24

Workers unsure on whether they can refuse a request to take annual leave are urged to seek legal advice. Pictured are Sydney restaurant workers on June 24

If your employer has qualified for JobKeeper payments, they can legally order eligible employees to take paid annual leave, which can’t be unreasonably refused.

Employers can also request in writing for staff to take annual leave at half pay for twice the amount of time. 

‘In short, if your employer is receiving a JobKeeper payment for you, you can’t unreasonably refuse their request to take annual leave, unless taking the leave results in you having an annual leave balance of fewer than two weeks,’ the sisters wrote. 

Employees unsure about their leave entitlements are urged to seek legal advice.

If your employer has qualified for JobKeeper during pandemic, you can't unreasonably refuse their request to take annual leave (stock image)

If your employer has qualified for JobKeeper during pandemic, you can’t unreasonably refuse their request to take annual leave (stock image)

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