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American's shock after overhearing Aussie colleague's holiday admission: 'It's crazy'

An American was shocked at how much time off Aussies get and, compared to the US, we're in a great position.

Australians are working harder and longer for their pay than ever before. But an American’s pure shock over the leave entitlements we enjoy has exposed some of the perks of working in the Lucky Country.

The Productivity Commission recently found Australia had a record-breaking increase in the number of hours worked (up 6.7 per cent) in the 2022-23 financial year. However, full-time workers enjoy a benefit many don’t realise other nations don’t have: four weeks of government-mandated paid time off.

American woman Lili, currently in Sydney on a working-holiday visa, was baffled when a colleague nonchalantly said they were going to take a take a whole month off.

But recruitment expert Graham Wynn told Yahoo Finance those four weeks are only the beginning and that many enjoy much longer stints to spend with friends, family or simply recharging.

Person on annual leave next to people walking around in public
When compared to the US, Australia's annual leave system looks pretty good. (Source: Getty)

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“I think some people get shocked because we can add our annual leave to public holidays,” Wynn said. “And, depending on public holidays, you can end up with like 10 days off work by only using three days of annual leave.

“It's crazy how this system works, but that's how it works.


“In Victoria alone, four weeks [of leave] annually, that's 20 days plus 11 public holidays as well, so 31 days of leave.”

Lili, who posted a video discussing her dismay to TikTok, said this would “literally never happen in America, ever”.

The US doesn't have a nationally-mandated period of paid time off and it's usually up to individual companies to dictate how much time staff get off. There are, however, several states that have introduced legislation to set a minimum amount of time for residents to have away from work.

Wynn estimated the norm in the US is 10 days or two weeks off, however, that can increase depending on how much time someone has spent at the company. Employees can also sometimes get unpaid time off if they want to travel for longer than what is offered.

Push to have mandatory six weeks annual leave slapped down

But if you thought Australia already had it good enough when it came to annual leave, there was a recent push to get even more time off work.

HR and workplace expert Jonathon Woolfrey argued it was “time to actually acknowledge it’s very difficult to organise all the things you need to do” with just a month off over the course of a year and he pushed for a six-week mandatory leave system.

“You need a different way of being able to manage and deal with that in a modern workplace,” Woolfrey explained on 2GB radio. “It’s time for six weeks. We need to move towards that.”

But that idea was slapped down by Ai Group, the nation’s peak industry association.

“There is no reasonable case for reconsidering the amount of annual leave prescribed by the safety net of leave entitlements applicable in Australia,” Brent Ferguson, the group’s head of national workplace relations policy, told Yahoo Finance.

Ferguson argued that permanent employees already received annual leave that “exceeds that applicable in many countries”.

“Not only is there no sensible justification for increasing leave entitlements, implementing such a change would cause obvious difficulties for employers and the broader community.

This would not only include the cost of paying for the extra leave but also the significant disruption and adverse impacts on productivity that would flow from further staff absences.”

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