Untaken leave a burden for all

by 06 Dec 2011

The latest government figures have revealed that Australian workers have amassed 129 million days of annual leave, worth $40bn in wages – a timely reminder for employers to encourage employees to redeem their accumulated annual leave.

The managing director of a new campaign has said there are no winners in the case of untaken leave.

A new television series No Leave, No Life has hit Australian screens and sheds light on the debate around leave as an ongoing workplace issue, and the common instance of accumulation of annual leave.

The new program is one of Tourism Australia’s key initiatives and is aimed at bringing awareness to the implications of stockpiling annual leave entitlements.

Andrew McEvoy, managing director Tourism Australia, said “Stockpiled leave can be a huge financial burden for employers with accumulated leave sitting on the balance sheet. Then there is the impact on employee productivity, health and stress levels which are all negatively impacted when taking leave is habitually avoided.”

In addition, figures revealed in a global study by travel website Expedia show that Australia is the fifth most holiday-deprived nation, and Australian workers are reluctant to take all of their leave due to the uncertain economic outlook.

Dr Peter Cotton, Medibank Health Solutions director of psychology services, said that not taking leave can often lead to increased stress levels both in professional and personal life.

“Employees who don’t take annual leave can often display higher levels of depression or anxiety-related stress among other symptoms, compared with those who do take holidays. Even taking short breaks for just a few days can lead to an improvement in a person’s mental, emotional and physical wellbeing,” Cotton said.

According to the survey results, the most common reasons employees were reluctant to take their annual leave were:

  • Separation anxiety from work (14%)
  • Negative reactions from employers (13%)
  • Getting paid extra for not taking holidays (9%)
  • Believing their employer was unsupportive of annual leave (26%)

Sharing the stage with Australia for the most holiday deprived nations was Japan (5 days), in first place for the third year in a row, South Korea (7 days), US (12 days), Mexico and Singapore (14 days), and equal fifth with Australia was Canada (15 days).


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