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Warning for bosses who don’t let their staff work on Australia Day

Three out of five workers said they’d rather work for an employer who offered flexible leave policies.

A majority of Aussie workers say they want the option to work on Australia Day and there could be serious repercussions for bosses who don’t provide staff with more flexible options.

New research from Indeed found 75 per cent of the 1,000 workers it surveyed wanted to be able to work on January 26.

Half of workers said they already had the option to work on Australia Day, with around 58 per cent of that group opting to not take the day off as a public holiday.

Australian flag for Australia Day and workers in the city.
More businesses are giving their staff the option to work on Australia Day and swap it for another day instead. (Source: Getty/AAP)

Do you have a story to share? Contact tamika.seeto@yahooinc.com

Indeed’s workplace expert Lauren Anderson said it was becoming more common for businesses to offer staff this flexibility.

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“It’s been growing over time, and particularly in the last few years, where we have seen the strength of the employee or the jobseeker. Their voice is a little bit louder than maybe it has been historically,” Anderson told Yahoo Finance.

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Anderson said there was a wider risk for businesses who did not adopt flexible leave options, such as the ability to swap public holiday leave dates.

“In the research, three out of five workers said they were more likely to choose an employer who had a flexible leave policy. There is a little bit of an inherent risk,” she said.

“What is becoming more prevalent, from a hiring side of things and employee-retention side of things, is the importance for employees to align themselves with a company that shares their values.”

The most popular reasons workers chose to work on Australia Day was to earn more money (89 per cent) and to have the flexibility to choose a different day off (78 per cent), the survey found. Many of those who chose not to work said they didn’t believe January 26 should be a day of celebration (66 per cent).

‘Things have changed’

Lucia Zelesco, director of Zelesco Consulting, said she would be working on Australia Day and offered her team the same flexibility.

“We really feel that things have changed in Australia, especially after the referendum. People find it a bit distasteful that people are celebrating on this day that does hurt some people,” Zelesco told Yahoo Finance.

“Whether you are for or against it, we’d rather be more neutral. Some people might be sensitive to it. I don’t like to put my views on other people but I like to be open to all sensitivities and thoughts.”

Lucia Zelesco
Lucia Zelesco said half of her staff have chosen to work on Australia Day and the other half will take the day off. (Source: Supplied)

Zelesco said about half of her team of between 10 to 20 would be opting to work on Australia Day and swap their leave for another date.

She added that she had a flexible leave policy across all public holidays in Australia, not just Australia Day, and staff had responded positively to the move.

“It’s another added bonus as to why you’d want to work in that environment over another one if it is more flexible,” Zelesco said.

While Australia Day is by far the least popular public holiday to observe (75 per cent), workers surveyed also said they wanted the option to work on other holidays like the King’s Birthday, Labour Day, Christmas Day and Easter Monday.

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