As the holiday season approaches, Australian businesses are gearing up for one of the busiest times of the year.

Whether you’re a retailer preparing for a surge in customers or a hospitality establishment planning festive events, there are essential considerations to keep in mind to ensure a smooth and successful Christmas season.

In this guide, we’ll explore some critical topics that Australian businesses need to address during this time, from valuing gift cards to managing holiday payroll and everything in between.

1. Gift Cards Valuation: Making the Right Choice

Gift cards are a popular choice for customers looking for the perfect present during the festive season. But how do you determine the value of these cards? Striking the right balance between attracting sales and maintaining profitability is crucial.

Setting Gift Card Values:

Consider offering gift cards in various denominations to cater to a wide range of customers. For instance, you might provide options like $25, $50, and $100 cards, allowing shoppers to choose the one that fits their budget. Make sure to check the FBT implications with providing gifts to your staff.

Customer loyalty vouchers are a little different. If you wish to say thank you to your customers for their ongoing loyalty, offering a discount voucher or code can go a long way. For these, we recommend offering a discount by percentage.

Legal Considerations:

Be aware of Australian consumer protection laws, which regulate gift cards. These laws stipulate expiry dates, refund policies and other terms and conditions. Ensuring compliance not only keeps you on the right side of the law but also fosters customer trust.

Learn more tips on ‘How to boost your business cash flow for Christmas’ here.

2. Bonuses and Payroll: The Christmas Reward Dilemma

Holiday bonuses are a way to show appreciation to your hardworking staff, but how do you handle them in terms of payroll and taxation?

Inclusion in Payroll:

One common question is whether holiday bonuses should be processed through the regular payroll system or separately. The choice may depend on your business’s preferences and the complexity of your payroll procedures.

Tax Implications:

In Australia, the taxation of bonuses depends on whether they are considered cash bonuses or non-cash benefits. Cash bonuses are generally subject to income tax and are included in the employee’s assessable income. However, non-cash benefits like gift vouchers may have different tax treatments. Consulting with a tax professional is advisable to ensure accurate compliance with tax regulations.

3. Working on Christmas Day: Legalities and Policies

While many Australians look forward to spending Christmas Day with loved ones, some industries require employees to work on public holidays like Christmas. Here’s how to navigate the legal aspects and develop appropriate policies.

Australian Employment Law:

In Australia, working on public holidays, including Christmas Day, is subject to specific employment laws. Employees who work on public holidays are typically entitled to penalty rates which can significantly affect your payroll expenses during the festive season.

Policy Development:

To handle employees working on Christmas Day, consider developing a clear policy that outlines the process for shift scheduling, employee consent, and compensation. This policy should align with Australian labour laws and promote fairness and transparency.

4. Managing Temporary Staff: Ensuring a Smooth Holiday Season

Many businesses, especially those in retail and hospitality, hire temporary staff to cope with increased demand during the holiday season. Proper planning is essential to ensure these temporary employees integrate seamlessly into your workforce.

Hiring for the Holiday Season:

Begin recruiting temporary staff well in advance of the holiday rush. Consider reaching out to previous seasonal employees who may be interested in returning, as they are already familiar with your business.

Onboarding and Training:

Efficiently onboard and train temporary employees to perform their roles effectively. Provide comprehensive training in areas such as product knowledge, customer service and health and safety protocols. A well-trained temporary staff can help maintain high standards during the busy season.

Maybe this is a good time to consider hiring a virtual assistant to relieve your holiday season stress?

5. Tax Deductions for Businesses: Maximising Benefits

Businesses in Australia can take advantage of specific tax deductions and incentives during the Christmas season. Understanding these deductions and keeping meticulous records is essential to optimise your tax benefits.

Available Deductions:

Identify potential tax deductions related to holiday expenses. For example, you may be eligible for deductions on gifts for clients or employees and decorations for your workplace. Consult with a tax professional to explore all available deductions.


Maintain accurate records of all expenses related to your holiday activities. Proper documentation will help substantiate your tax deductions and ensure compliance with tax regulations.

6. Leave Policies: Balancing Business Needs and Employee Time Off

Many employees seek time off during the holiday season to celebrate with their families. Managing leave requests effectively while maintaining business operations is crucial.

Annual Leave Requests:

Expect an increase in annual leave requests during the festive season. Employees may want to take time off to enjoy the holidays with their loved ones. Ensure your leave policies are flexible and accommodate employee needs while still ensuring adequate staffing.

Balancing Business Needs:

Develop strategies to balance business operations with employee leave requests. Consider implementing a leave approval process that takes into account the operational needs of your business during this peak period.

7. Customer Returns and Refunds: Navigating the Policy

With increased holiday sales, there’s also an uptick in returns and refund requests. Having a clear returns and refunds policy is essential for managing customer expectations and legal obligations. A well-handled return or exchange can make as much, if not more, of a positive impact as the initial sale itself.

Returns Policy:

Check and refine your returns and refunds policy to ensure it adheres to Australian consumer protection laws. Clearly communicate this policy to your customers, both in-store and online, to manage their expectations.

Handling Returns:

Efficiently process returns and exchanges to maintain customer satisfaction and uphold your brand’s reputation. Proper inventory management is crucial to ensure that returned items are properly accounted for.

8. Health and Safety Compliance: Celebrating Safely

Decorating the workplace and hosting holiday events are festive traditions but they must be done with safety in mind.

Always ensure there is a well thought and approved safety plan and that guests are aware of required safety instructions, such as location of exits.

Holiday Decorations:

Be mindful that all holiday decorations must comply with workplace safety regulations. Consider potential hazards such as electrical issues, trip hazards, or flammable materials. Conduct safety inspections as needed.

Alcohol at Work Events:

If you plan to serve alcohol at workplace holiday events, be aware of the responsible service of alcohol regulations in Australia. Promote responsible drinking and ensure the safety of all attendees.

Ready to be jolly around business at Xmas?

Navigating the Christmas season in Australia involves various considerations, from simple to complex. By proactively addressing these topics and staying informed about relevant laws and regulations, Australian businesses can ensure both a successful and festive holiday season. One that employees, customers and business owners all enjoy, while keeping your financial health in mind.

For professional guidance that gets your business moving in the right direction, speak to our team of experts at Carbon. We do more than help you start; we help support your venture into the future.

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