Aussies have 111 million days of unused annual leave

Shot of a stressed out businesswoman surrounded by colleagues needing help

A massive amount of Aussies aren’t using their annual leave up and we’re gobsmacked! To be fair we haven’t had a holiday since July 2007.

But now, as the end of financial year approaches, new research from online accounting software, Xero, suggests that more than half of the nation aren’t using their annual leave.


The great Australian holiday balance

According to Xero’s Travel Habits Report, which analyses the travel trends between Australian workers and small business owners, 52 per cent of Australian workers have failed to use all of their entitled annual leave in the past 12 months, with a further 45 per cent admitting to not using any annual leave in 2017.

This emerging trend is impacting the great Australian holiday balance, equating to more than 111 million days of unused Australian annual leave each year.

However, it’s not hard work and no play for all Aussies. Despite clocking up the highest percentage of unused annual leave, research shows that small business owners are leading by example.

64 per cent of small business owners report as having gone on a holiday in the last six months, and almost two-in-five (37 per cent) that work for themselves have done so in the last three months.

Sadly, this is more than the average Australian worker, with less than one third (31 per cent) admitting to having been on holiday in the last three months and 23 per cent who haven’t had a holiday in the last 12 months.

They might be leading by example, but we sure ain’t following.

Anneliese Urquhart, Small Business Director at Xero Australia is encouraging more Aussies to adopt the ‘short yet meaningful’ travel trips being embraced by small business owners.

“As Australians, a hard working culture is ingrained in our DNA, however, this shouldn’t be getting in the way of our desire to travel and achieve optimum holiday balance,” she said.

“Though it comes at no surprise that small business owners are the least likely to use their annual leave, it’s encouraging to see they are in fact getting away from their desks more frequently – even if it is just a weekend break – to enjoy some much deserved time away,.

“Taking a mid-year break can be an ideal way to shift the focus from day-to-day tasks and reset personal or career related goals for the year ahead.

“We encourage all Aussies to take some time out  for themselves –  not only to celebrate the work achievements of the past year, but to also set new goals for the new financial year ahead.

“Not only are we seeing this approach reduce ‘back to work holiday blues’ in small business owners, it’s actually allowing them to go on more holidays over a 12 month period – a trend we would like to see more Australians embracing, ” Urquhart  added.

Small business owners fast becoming Australia’s travel trendsetters

Xero’s Travel Habits research found that majority of small business owners (65 per cent) have plans to take holidays in the next six months, and more than a third (36 per cent) are set to travel in the next three months.

Small business owners are more likely to take shorter, more frequent breaks (39 per cent) compared to the average Australian worker (26 per cent), and getting away on weekends could be the secret to maintaining a good work-life balance.

While two weeks annual leave is the typical amount of time Aussies prefer to take each holiday, nearly one in five small business owners prefer to take only four days off at a time – compared to less than one in ten of Aussie workers (nine per cent) who prefer to take a short break.


According to the travel habits of SMBs, 93 per cent said taking annual leave helps avoid feeling burnt out at work; 75 per cent believe taking scheduled time off is an opportunity to celebrate the work achievements of the past year; and nearly all said a holiday is an investment in personal well-being, and a necessity to maintaining a good work-life balance (93 and 91 per cent, respectively).

Findings also found that improved work-life balance, enhanced relationships with family and friends and increased personal productivity all topped the list of key benefits for taking holidays.

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