Paid annual leave in Australia: Who gets it, who takes it and implications for work-life interference

Natalie Skinner, Barbara Pocock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Working time is mostly studied in terms of daily and weekly hours. However, longer breaks from work, in the form of paid annual leave, are also an important aspect of working time, and can help workers manage the fit between their working lives and activities beyond work. Analysing nationally representative data from the Australian Work and Life Index we find that 60% of full-time workers with an entitlement to paid annual leave did not use their full leave entitlement in 2009. Compared to an earlier survey in 2002, very little has changed. Work-related pressures are prominent barriers to leave uptake. There are significant work-life penalties for not taking paid annual leave - particularly for workers with parenting responsibilities and for women. When asked to choose between two weeks' additional paid leave and an equivalent pay rise, the majority choose more paid leave over a pay increase. These findings support a strengthening of Australian employees' paid leave entitlements, including increasing entitlements and broader eligibility. There is also a case for more assertive management of leave, so that workers can take annual leave regularly rather than allow leave to accumulate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)681-698
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Industrial Relations
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Overwork
  • paid annual leave
  • work-life conflict
  • working hours


Dive into the research topics of 'Paid annual leave in Australia: Who gets it, who takes it and implications for work-life interference'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this