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Millions of Aussies missing out on $65 billion

Australian people walking in the mall. Australian money notes. Pay concept.
Millions of Aussies have more than four weeks of annual leave owing, new research has found. (Source: Getty)

Millions of Aussies have more than four weeks of available annual leave, new research has found, meaning bosses owe workers roughly $65 billion.

New data from SEEK found almost half of all workers (46 per cent) had more than 20 days of annual leave banked up, while nearly three in four had two or more weeks.

More than a third of Aussies (35 per cent) said they hadn’t been on a holiday for more than a year, the survey of 1,949 workers found, and 3 per cent couldn’t remember when their last break was.

So, why aren’t we taking leave? According to the report, almost two in five people (39 per cent) who had more than three weeks’ leave were saving it for a holiday down the track.

But a decent chunk of people (29 per cent) said they hadn’t had the opportunity to take annual leave, and more than half of Aussies (64 per cent) said their workplace wasn’t set up for a lot of people to take leave at the same time.

It comes as Australia faces a “staggering” skills shortage, with the number of occupations feeling the pressure doubling in the past year. Two in three tradies have even said they are scared to take annual leave because they don’t want to disrupt business or have jobs dry up.

SEEK’s resident psychologist, Sabina Read, said taking time out could help avoid burnout and reduce stress and anxiety.

“Although banking our leaves for longer holidays is often preferred, frequent short breaks (even if they’re closer to home) can help avoid burnout to maintain morale long-term and [help employees] thrive, both personally as well as professionally,” Read said.

Most Aussies know taking leave is good for them - 78 per cent said taking annual leave helped them be more productive in the workplace and 79 per cent said it made them feel “more energised for work”.

“Stepping away from the daily grind helps improve productivity, renews engagement levels at work and improves our capacity to learn,” Read said.

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