HR Tips & Answers

New Shutdown Rules apply to 78 Awards from 1st May 2023

Have you heard about the changes to the rules around taking leave for shutdown that came into force on 1st May 2023?

Do you know which industries are affected and most importantly does it affect your business?

First and foremost you need to know that a Shutdown is different to a Stand Down.

  1. A Shutdown is when a business closes its doors for a temporary period and will re-open at the end of this period; for example: for the Christmas period or closure or due to COVID-19 impact on critical workers
  2. A Stand Down is when a business tells it’s employees not to work because it cannot be usefully employed due to reasons beyond the control of the business; for example: Equipment breakdown that affects the ability to conduct the business (eg. Power outage), Industrial action or a natural disaster (eg. Flood).

If your business has an annual shutdown or you may be considering a shutdown due to your business’s current circumstances you need to be across the changes announced by Fair Work Australia.

So what are the changes and what do you need to do….

First of all, check if your business and employees are covered by one of the 78 affected Awards or if you have a registered agreement in place you should check the terms of the agreement.

You can find information about your award by the following the  Fair Work link   For example, if your business is in the Plumbing sector but you also employee clerical staff you would need to check each sub industry as shown below:

sub industry graphic


While you can still require your employees to take paid annual leave during a shutdown period you must make sure that:

  • The need for the employees to take annual leave must be reasonable
  • You must give the employees 28 days’ notice of the shutdown period in writing
  • If an employee doesn’t have sufficient annual leave accrued to cover the shutdown then you and the employee can make a separate leave agreement for the period of shutdown not covered. This agreement must be in writing and can take the form of:
      1. Using any time in lieu accrual they may have
      2. An advance on their annual leave, or
      3. Leave without pay
  • By agreement with the majority of employees the period of shutdown can be decreased.
  • Employees must be paid for any Public Holidays that occur during the shutdown period if they fall on a day when the employee would usually work if it were not for the shutdown.


For many businesses keeping up with all the legislative changes currently being published by Fair Work can be confronting and confusing to say the least and compliance is being monitored more than ever with the Regulator carrying out spot checks in most industry sectors.

If you need assistance to check if your business if affected and more importantly what you need to be compliant please don’t hesitate to contact Leisa and the WorkBetter team for help – we’re only a phone call away.

(Images courtesy of Fair Work Ombudsman website)
Published: Wednesday, May 17th, 2023

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