Anna Luebke - Jun 24, 2008

Australians are the most holiday deprived people in the world. According to Expedia’s annual global Vacation Deprivation survey, Australia is doing the worst among the surveyed countries (USA, UK, Spain, Germany, France and Australia). Thirty eight per cent of Australians do not take all of their allocated annual leave days. An average Australian usually leaves three days unused. This years’ survey also revealed that 31 per cent of Australians take holidays less than once a year and 13 per cent take holidays even less than every five years. Australians also have the second lowest amount of annual leave. They have only 18 days (Americans are the “first” with 14 days).


What are the reasons for such holiday deprivation? Basically, they are two: money and workaholism. Twenty six per cent of surveyed Australians cited financial pressures as the reason for not taking all their leave. Thirty two per cent of the surveyed claimed that the credit crunch and higher interest will affect their holiday plans for this year. According to the study, 11 per cent felt guilty taking time off work for a holiday and 7 per cent was afraid to leave their work to go on holiday. Thirty four per cent of the respondents claim their work commitments make it impossible to take a break. The majority of Australians who do go for holiday stays connected to their work through mobile phone (57 per cent).


Australian psychologists warn that working long periods without a break may have negative effects on health as well as on relationships. They claim that holidays are vital part of life for maintaining a happy family life and good work productivity.


On the other side of the scale are the French. They have on average 37 leave days a year and usually they do not use only 3 days.


  1. I find this completely untrue. Having spent three years working in Melbourne not so long ago, I found there was little work ethic - a down tools philosophy at 5pm and I was ridiculed if I stayed late to finish a project or similar. Furthermore, the Aussies are known for taking their 'sickies' which they see as an entitlement and as such appear to abuse this system. Many of my colleagues would regularly take a 'sickie' when they just wanted a day off - it was never queried. Similarly due to the incredible protectionism by many of the unions, people tend to get away with what in the global world would be considered unacceptable behaviour. A member of my team, got up and walked out in the middle of an important meeting (with external clients) because she considered at 1220 this was her right as it was lunchtime. Despite the fact I queried this with the MD, I was advised she was 'entitled' to do that with no concern to the ramifications for the company. It would never have occured to her or anyone else to take their lunch hour a little later - it was just not considered the norm... Whilst official holidays may be shorter than in many countries, if one adds in the sickies and the ridiculous amount of time wasting spent of 'popping out to get coffee' and 'smoke breaks', I believe the Aussie working hours and ethics are considerably less. If they believe they have a stress filled existence they should perhaps experience working in the 'real' world.

    Both my husband and myself have found the work ethic in Europe and South Africa to be considerably stronger. Although unions and official working hours predominate, the actual work ethic is considerably stronger where people will generally flex according to what is needed and for the overall benefit to the company. The changes taking place in France at the present time are an example of this. If one wants to be a world player one needs to play by world standards. It is hardly surprising that the high Asian population in Australia is having considerable impact given that their overall work ethic is considerably stronger than the average Aussie.

  2. I have to agree with Frances...this is BS... who wrote this???....all Ozzies get a min of 4 weeks paid leave a year....and 3 monthd Long Service Leave after 10 years of service??.....a lot of Canadians are still only getting 2 weeks anual leave?....dah
    Cheers JL


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