Not Allowed to Take Annual Leave or Other Leave

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2 May 2014
Can an employer tell their staff that they are not allowed to take any annual leave or other types of leave for the year because they are short staffed? Is this legal under Australian employment law?


Further to Elle's advice, whether or not you are entitled to take annual leave will depend on many circumstances specific to your employment situation including your employment contract, and how long you have been at your job and whether you have accrued leave. However, it sounds like in this situation, your employer is trying to pay everyone out for their annual leave instead of taking it. Even so, it will still depend on what instruments you are employed under and what they say about cashing in your annual leave. Try to get your hands on your employment agreement or award and read up on annual leave entitlements.

The Fair Work Ombudsman states as follows:

"In the case of employees covered by an award or agreement, annual leave can be cashed out if the award or agreement allows it. Award/agreement free employees may also agree with their employer to cash out annual leave. However, for all employees that agree to cash out annual leave, the following conditions apply:
  • the employee must retain an entitlement to least four weeks paid annual leave
  • there is a separate agreement in writing on each occasion that leave is cashed out
  • the employer must not exert undue influence or undue pressure on an employee to agree to cash out an amount of annual leave
  • the employee must be paid at least the full amount that would have been payable had the annual leave been taken."
Hope this helps.