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Give us a break

Published: January 8, 2016

Have you had time off this Christmas/ New Year season?

Even though we are smack dab in the middle of prime holiday season, with abundant blue skies, warm weather, and Christmas/ New Year just behind us…

Even though Australia is one of the only places on the planet where work/life balance tops the list of important employee attributes…

And even though we all love it….

Around 50 per cent of the full-time workforce will not take a break at all this season.

This surprising news comes according to a survey published by the Tourism and Transport Forum last month. The study also found that, between us, we Australians have an accumulated 123.5 million days of annual leave saved up, or 350,000 years of holidays. (See the below two graphs from Roy Morgan Research for further details).

So why are we so stingy with using our annual leave?

The reasons may vary, and it’s easy to speculate, but statistics published in a SMH article recently suggested that around eight in ten of us feel guilty when we take a break. As it turns out, our trips away tend to turn into ‘guilt trips’, as almost two thirds of Australians do a little work during their vacation.

And with so many Australian workers feeling stressed, burnt out, and tired from the lack of holidays, reports published in AFR found that employee willingness has dropped, and engagement levels are at their lowest since January. The question this may raise for some is, can employers concerned about flagging productivity levels and switched off employees compel their staff to take a break? The short answer is, not really. The Fair Work Act of 2009 advises employers to carefully consider any basis they might have for directing employees to take annual leave. It’s important to check whether the FWC permits an employer to ask employees to take time off, and it must be reasonable.

Mitrefinch can easily track employee leave of all types, and track absence patterns and identify issues early on. For more information, please visit http://mitrefinch.com.au/products/absence-management/

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