Australians one of the worst at taking annual leave, report suggests

If you ended last year without taking all your annual leave, you are not alone.

Australians on average have five days of unused annual leave owing each year, compared with just one for their American and British counterparts, according to a new global "vacation deprivation" report from online travel group Expedia.

Many Australians did not take leave because they felt unable to plan it due to work commitments. Others said their employer did let them take all of the leave they wanted and some stockpiled leave to take the next year.

Furthermore, 11 per cent of Australians took no annual leave last year.

Some may have been among the 48 per cent of Australians who believe they needed to be in a job at least a year before asking for annual leave, despite it accruing daily. That compares with 13 per cent of British workers and 30 per cent of Kiwis who held the same view.

Expedia Australia and New Zealand head Georg Ruebensal said he found the findings interesting given in his native Germany, where workers were given 30 days of annual leave compared with 20 in Australia, all of the ­entitlement was used.

He said one major difference was that in Germany, annual leave days needed to be taken each year or they were lost.

"One of the problems we see here is that employees are trying to do the right thing for the companies [by not taking leave], but they don't by stockpiling and not taking leave in the first year," Mr Ruebensal said.

"It is about being able to deliver at full energy and full passion.


"If we don't take off at some stage, it doesn't make sense. It is the same story about working over lunch breaks and not taking that hour off [which is ­negative for productivity]."

Another issue for Australians was that many felt obligated to remain ­connected with work through their smartphones when they were on leave and not at work.

"When I'm on holiday, I'm not checking my email," Mr Ruebensal said. "If you need me you can send me a text message and I'll respond. I'm trying to lead by example."

The nature of the breaks being taken by Australians depends largely on whether the destination is closer to home or farther away.

Mr Ruebensal said on average, ­Australians booked domestic trips with a length of just three days through the Expedia travel site, but they spent 12 days away on overseas holidays. ­However, the latter figure was down from 14 days a few years ago.

He said the trend was toward ­short-haul trips including Melbourne, Sydney, Bali, the Gold Coast, Auckland and Singapore, with bookings growing at twice the rate for long-haul ­destinations.

But Mr Ruebensal said the lower Australian dollar had yet to deter ­travellers from booking trips to the United States.

"The US is as popular as ever for us," he said. "We see New York and Los Angeles growing a lot."