Generally, annual leave is there to be used at a time that is mutually agreed between you and your employer. Your Award or Enterprise Agreement might contain specific information on whether your employer can direct you to take your annual leave.
If you’re not covered by an Award or Enterprise Agreement, your employer might still be able to ask you to take annual leave in certain circumstances. The general rule is that an employer can only direct you to take your annual leave if that direction is considered to be “reasonable”.
For example, a direction to take annual leave may be reasonable if your employer’s business is temporarily shutting down.
Generally, there is no definitive guide for when your employer can and cannot ask you to take annual leave. Each case needs to be considered individually.
If your employer is taking part in the Jobkeeper scheme, then they will have additional powers to ask you to use your annual leave. If this is the case, refer to the JobKeeper section of our Know your work rights during COVID-19 FAQs.