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Two thirds of Aussies depriving themselves of holidays

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

Are we a vacation-deprived nation? While many Aussie workers might have taken Friday the 27th of January off (after Australia Day), surprising new research has revealed that, in general, two in three (67%) of Aussie workers did not take all their annual leave in 2016, and an alarming 37 per cent – up to nine million[1] of us – took no annual leave at all.

The findings come from a survey of a nationally representative, independent panel of 1,004 Australian adults conducted by an independent research agency[2] and commissioned by HotelsCombined(hotelscombined.com.au), 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 that the younger we are, the less likely we are to use all of our accrued leave – 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%). People aged in their 30s and 40s are most likely to take just a portion of their annual leave.

Chris Rivett, Head of Marketing Australia and New Zealand at HotelsCombined, says: “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.”

Are Tasmanians our hardest working Australians?

Tasmanians are least likely to take their annual leave. More than half (58%) 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.

An unlucky 5 per cent of respondents said they were not granted leave by their employers. The number who have their annual leave rejected by their employers reduces with age: 10 per cent of 20-somethings, eight per cent of those in their 30s, four per cent of those in their 40s, and one per cent of over-50s.

When we do take annual leave, we sit at home

Sadly, more than half of Australians (55%) 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%) say they always travel away from home during their annual leave.

Chris Rivett says, “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.

“With so many accommodation deals to be found online, it’s never a better time to source and book that much needed break. HotelsCombined compares all the major accommodation booking sites to give Australian workers the best deals available.”

Amount of annual leave taken in 2016 

Amount of annual leave taken NATIONAL NSW VIC QLD SA WA ACT TAS NT
All my annual leave 31% 31% 34% 32% 21% 30% 12% 27% 50%
Around three quarters 10% 11% 10% 6% 12% 10% 35% 0% 10%
Around half 10% 11% 11% 8% 12% 11% 6% 12% 0%
About one quarter or less 10% 12% 10% 8% 9% 8% 18% 4% 0%
None/I didn’t take any annual leave this year 37% 32% 33% 44% 44% 42% 29% 58% 40%
I took more annual leave than I had saved 2% 3% 2% 2% 3% 0% 0% 0% 0%

How much time spent at home vs. holidaying away from home, by state

Time spent at home NATIONAL NSW VIC QLD SA WA ACT TAS NT
All my annual leave 19% 16% 14% 23% 29% 22% 18% 27% 30%
Around three quarters 27% 30% 25% 26% 32% 23% 29% 35% 30%
About one quarter 28% 27% 31% 28% 21% 30% 35% 15% 0%
I always travel away from home during my annual leave 26% 28% 29% 23% 18% 25% 18% 23% 40%

Top 4 reasons for not taking all annual leave in 2016, overall

Ranking Reason Percentage
1 I only like to take holidays if I’m travelling away from home 21%
2 It was my choice not to take holidays due to personal reasons 18%
3 It was my choice not to take holidays due to work reasons 14%
4 My employer did not grant me permission 5%

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