Get smart with annual leave

Become a holiday-friendly workplace in 2016

We all know that taking a break to recharge is important for our work/life balance, but the reality is that Australians aren’t taking enough annual leave.

And this can negatively impact not only our personal health, but also your business’ bottom line.

The facts

Last year, 11% of Australians didn’t take annual leave1. The latest statistics reveal that Australia’s full-time workforce has gained over 123 million days of accrued annual leave2.

On average, Australians have five days of unused annual leave owing each year, compared with just one for our American and British counterparts2.

Risk of excessive leave accruals

The more leave accrued by employees, the costlier it gets for employers.

Annual leave accumulates in terms of hours, not a fixed dollar value. So, when employees eventually take their leave, it may be at a higher pay rate. There’s also the financial liability on the balance sheet.

Plus, not taking a break from work can lead employees to becoming more stressed, tired and unproductive. Working to excess can then result in increased absenteeism and sick leave.

Tips to encourage leave

  1. Promote the benefits of taking a break:
    • Eliminate stress and return to work refreshed and reenergised
    • Spend quality time with loved ones
    • Enjoy new experiences away from the confines of the office.
  2. Emphasise that work can be divided among team members in their absence so it won’t be chaos on their return.
  3. Make leave planning a permanent agenda item. Remind employees that busy periods such as summer holidays tend to book up fast so it’s best to get leave requests in early.
  4. Lead by example and ensure your senior managers and executives take their leave entitlements.
  5. Run an incentive for employees to reduce their leave accruals and win a prize or holiday.

A handy resource for employers is Tourism Australia’s campaign No Leave, No Life3, which provides a series of modules and practical case studies to help address the challenges of stockpiled leave.

Under some awards and registered agreements, employers can direct employees to take paid annual leave if they have a lot of annual leave4.

A fresh start for 2016

With the new work year just around the corner, make sure your workplace is ‘holiday-friendly’ and encourage your employees to embrace annual leave.

“Holidays help to build positive morale, which results in increased motivation in the workplace, making it a better place for everyone. A productive work force will ultimately drive the success of your business.” Andrew McEvoy, Managing Director, Tourism Australia3

Please note: Business owners and employers should make sure they are familiar with the National Employment Standards5 under the Fair Work legislation, which stipulates all arrangements relating to annual leave.


1 Vacation Deprivation, Expedia
2 Aussies have how much annual leave accured, Roy Morgan
3 No Leave, No Life, Tourism Australia
4 Direction to take excess annual leave, Fair Work Commission
5 National Employment Standards, Fair Work Commission


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