New research reveals Aussies are ‘workaholics’

Do you only take holidays when you’re forced over Chrissy break? Can you not get away due to work reasons? Or, did your employer not grant you permission? Perhaps, we are seeing the beginning of the death of the Great Australian ‘sickie’…

While many Aussie workers ‘chuck a sickie’ on days that help them boost their time off (for example, the Friday after Australia day), surprising new research has revealed that, in general, two in three of Aussie workers did not take all their annual leave in 2016, with an alarming 37 per cent – up to nine million – taking no annual leave at all.

As these findings reveal many Aussie workers are depriving themselves of holidays from work, the question pending remains: Are we a vacation-deprived nation? Let’s take a look at the figures.

The findings come from a survey of a nationally representative, independent panel of 1,004 Australian adults conducted by an independent research agency and commissioned by HotelsCombined, the world’s leading hotel price comparison platform.

The survey revealed that just 31 per cent of Aussies used all their annual leave last year, 10 per cent took around three-quarters of their entitlements, 10 per cent took half of their entitlements, and 10 per cent took a quarter or less. Just two per cent took more annual leave than they had accrued.

Digging deeper into the results, HotelsCombined revealed:

  • 67 per cent of Aussie workers did not take all of their annual leave entitlements in 2016
  • A surprising 37 per cent took no annual leave in 2016 at all
  • 58 per cent of Tasmanians take no annual leave – more than any other state
  • 21 per cent of Aussies don’t take annual leave, because they haven’t booked travel
  • 75 per cent of workers who take annual leave spend time at home

However, not so surprisingly, age was an important factor.

For instance, the survey revealed that the younger we are, the less likely we are to use all of our accrued leave, as the proportion of Aussie workers taking all of their annual leave grows consistently with age.

Among those in their 20s, 26 per cent used all of their entitlements, compared with 28 per cent of those in their 30s, 31 per cent of 40-somethings and 35 per cent of 50-somethings.

Interestingly, while over-50s were most likely to use all of their annual leave, 48 per cent of this age group did not take any annual leave in 2016, followed closely by those in their 20s (37 per cent). People aged in their 30s and 40s are most likely to take just a portion of their annual leave.

“It’s surprising that Australians are stockpiling so much of their annual leave. It’s fine to consider ourselves workaholics but holidays are important for our mental and physical wellbeing, which plays a direct role in how we perform in the workplace.”

“For many Australian workers, annual leave is often also the only way to spend a good amount of quality time with their families,” said Chris Rivett, head of marketing Australia and New Zealand at HotelsCombined.

Are Tasmanians our hardest working Australians?

Tasmanians are least likely to take their annual leave. More than half (58 per cent) admitted they did not take any annual leave in 2016, followed by Queenslanders and South Australians at 44 per cent respectively.

Residents of Western Australia follow at 42 per cent, then Northern Territory residents at 40 per cent, Victorians at 33 per cent, NSW residents at 32 per cent, and then ACT at 29 per cent.

Why aren’t we taking our annual leave?

The findings also hint that many of us prefer to take time off work to travel, but we might not be organised enough or have the budget. Among those who failed to take all of their entitlements, 21 per cent admitted it was because they only take holidays if they have booked travel. A further 14 per cent did not take all their holidays owed due to work pressures.

And what do we do with our annual leave?

The survey revealed that when we do take our annual leave, we sit at home. Sadly, more than half of Australians (55 per cent) are spending 25-75 per cent of their annual leave at home, with 19 per cent spending all their annual leave at home. Just one quarter (26 per cent) say they always travel away from home during their annual leave.

“While not everyone has the budget to make an escape from home, taking a trip once or twice a year – even if it’s a regional or coastal stay a couple of hours from home – can make a big difference in our health and wellbeing.”

“I encourage all Australians to take their annual leave in 2017 because there’s very little reason not to book a trip. Four weeks’ annual leave is essentially a week off every quarter, which gives us reason to plan and book a good holiday we can use as an escape,” Rivett concluded.

And with so many accommodation deals to be found online at HotelsCombined, isn’t it the best time to source and book that much needed break? Or simply, ‘chuck a sickie’?