My employee has no work. Is unpaid leave an option?

Hi Aunty B,

Further to the response you provided on compulsory leave. In the event an employee runs out of work (let’s say temporarily), can we ask them to take unpaid leave or annual leave?

I am referring to a scenario where it is not a shutdown but we are asking employees to do this to avoid redundancies.
Is this all legal?



Dear James,


Ask away – whether you are successful enough or not is up to your employee.

You can’t force employees to take annual or unpaid leave.  But our legal adviser Peter Vitale explains there are some exceptions to this rule.


First, employees can be required to take leave during a shutdown period (see previous article you mentioned above).

Second, an employee who has “excessive” annual leave accruals can be directed to take up to 25% of accrued leave.  This only applies if the employee has more than eight weeks leave accrued.


Third, if a workplace agreement, a pre-WorkChoices certified agreement, or an AWA or ITEA gives the employer a right to direct employees to take leave, then they can do so.


Under legislation in most states, employers have an option to give notice to employees requiring them to take accrued long service leave, so this may be a partial answer.

Good luck and may you find more work.

Cheers, Aunty B.

To read more Aunty B advice, click here.


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