HR Focus: Understanding the new temporary shutdown provisions

02 Nov 2023


As of 1 May 2023, the temporary shutdown provisions in many modern awards underwent significant changes. Here’s what businesses and employees need to know about the adjustments and how they may affect the usual year-end shutdowns.

What is a Temporary Shutdown?

A temporary shutdown refers to the period when an employer temporarily ceases their business operations. This closure is often seen during festive seasons, especially around Christmas and New Year. During these times, it’s common for businesses not to need the full strength of their workforce. As a result, employers might instruct employees to go on leave.

The 2023 Changes: What’s New?

With the recent updates, there’s been an effort to create consistency across most modern awards concerning temporary shutdowns. Here are the key takeaways:

  1. Mandatory Notice for Shutdown: Employers looking to enforce a temporary shutdown need to provide a 28-day notice to their employees. However, there’s flexibility here – the notice period is negotiable based on mutual agreements.
  2. Leave During Shutdown: During the shutdown, employers can direct their staff to use their annual leave. But what happens if an employee doesn’t have enough annual leave saved up? In such cases, employers and employees can discuss alternatives. These can include:
    • Leave without pay.
    • Utilising accrued time-off-in-lieu (TOIL).
    • Using rostered days off (RDO)s.
    • Taking annual leave in advance.

Extent of Impact

It’s essential to note that out of 120 modern awards, these changes affect 77. This means a considerable portion of the business landscape will be adapting to these new provisions.


The new temporary shutdown provisions offer clarity and consistency for both employers and employees. Businesses should familiarise themselves with these changes to ensure smooth operations around shutdown periods, while employees should be aware of their rights and options during these times.

This article was published on the Liquid HR website on 26 October 2023. Liquid HR offer HR Consulting and HR Outsourcing to small and medium-sized enterprises, including the Australian Veterinary Association.