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Shock finding: burnout looms as annual leave disappears

June 7, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

In an alarming trend for the future of travel, half of Australian workers appear to be receiving little or no annual leave. As for the other half, the workers who do receive paid annual leave, two thirds of them don’t take enough of it.

The findings stem from two surveys, one conducted by academics, the other by a travel company.

The first investigation uncovered a disturbing fact: fewer than half of employed Australians hold a “standard job”: that is, a permanent full-time paid job with leave entitlements.

A new report by the Centre for Future Work at the Australia Institute, entitled “The Dimensions of Insecure Work: A Factbook” looks at the growing insecurity of work in Australia.

The report reviews 11 statistical indicators of the growth in employment insecurity over the last five years, including: part-time work, short hours, underemployment, casual jobs, marginal self-employment, and jobs paid minimum wages under modern awards.


All of those indicators of job stability have declined since 2012.

“Australians are rightly worried about the growing insecurity of work,” Dr Jim Stanford, director of the Centre for Future Work, commented.

“We are now seeing less than half of employed Australians holding a ‘standard job’, with dependable hours, pay, and benefits. In particular, many young people are giving up hope of finding a permanent full-time job – and if these trends continue, many of them never will.”

Part-time workers in marginal self-employed positions (including so-called “gig economy” workers) have fared the worst, with their real wages falling 26% over the past five years.

The implications for travel are major. Leisure travel needs people who can afford it and business travel usually requires full-time employees to take it. The full report, “The Dimensions of Insecure Work: A Factbook” by Dr Tanya Carney and Dr Jim Stanford, is available for free analysis and download here.

If that’s not bad enough, has surveyed Australian full-time workers’ annual leave habits, their motivations and the consequences of not taking enough annual leave.

The study concentrated on the 50% of Australian workers who actually hold full-time regular jobs.

Data revealed an equivalent of 2.4 million Australians have gone without taking annual leave for more than a year, with 86% experiencing burnout as a result of not taking enough leave.

This shocking nationwide trend means that the equivalent of 2.4 million full time working Australians have gone without taking leave for more than a year, with 86% experiencing burnout as a result of not taking enough leave

To start redressing this balance, is encouraging Aussies to make Friday 15 June 2018 ‘Book A Holiday Day’, coinciding with mid-month pay week for many Australians, by dedicating time to researching and booking a holiday or short getaway to benefit their health and wellbeing.’s new research surveying 1000 working Aussies on their annual leave habits and motivations exposes Australia as a nation of workaholics, with only 31% of workers using all of their annual leave days each year.

Those who have children are more likely to use their annual leave showing that the family dynamic is driving holidays as they take breaks for key periods. However, over half have said more leave days would give them greater flexibility to spend more time with their kids.

Breaking it down by state, data shows that South Australians are the nation’s biggest workaholics with only 19% using all of their annual leave and over a third going without leave for 7-12 months. Queenslanders (25%) and Western Australians (30%) are also guilty of not taking leave for the longest period of 1-2 years.

On the other hand, New South Wales and Victoria are the most likely to take a well-earned break with 36% and 34% respectively stating they always use their annual leave allocation.

Across the generations, Baby Boomers have had longer breaks without annual leave for up to two years on average, which is double the longest time Gen X and Millennials are willing to wait for a break.

The survey also uncovered a strong need for Australian workers to take advantage of their leave and take a break for their health. With the majority of workers experiencing burnout as a result of not taking enough holidays, three in 10 workers admit to leaving work early due to exhaustion, while an equivalent of almost 1 million workers admitting to falling asleep at work.

Consequences of experiencing burnout from not taking enough annual leave
Loss of concentration 51%
Worked more slowly than usual 43%
Taking one or more sick days 38%
Eating unhealthily (junk/sugary foods) 36%
Consuming too much caffeine in order to stay focused 33%

Andi Lew, wellness coach and ambassador of’s Book a Holiday campaign, experienced this burnout first hand last year when she had a minor health scare. Her doctor advised that he was very concerned about her cortisol levels due to stress and told her to take a holiday.

Lew said: “As a wellness coach I see so many people who are burnt out from their hectic schedules where they never take the time to switch off and this can lead to various health issues, both mental and physical. In fact, last year I was getting really run down at work, to the point where my doctor prescribed me a holiday and it was the best medical advice I have ever received. Ever since then I’ve made a conscious decision to regularly take a break and go on holidays to ensure my mind and body is well rested.”

Aussie workers are demanding more leave from their bosses, according to, declaring they don’t have enough paid annual leave days. Key reasons for this desire include: wanting to feel refreshed and working more effectively (56%); having enough time to de-stress from work and look after their health (55%); and to have more time to travel (54%).

In fact, Australia has some of the most generous paid annual leave entitlement in the world, provided you are in the 50% of workers with a full-time job.

Written by Peter Needham

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