Media Release

1.7 million Aussies forced to take career break due to illness or injury

  • 14% of Australian workers have taken over four weeks off due to poor health
  • Two in five have taken over a month’s break from their jobs
  • urges workers to consider getting income protection

1 May, 2018, Sydney, Australia – Two in five Australian workers (40%) have been forced to take over a month of leave unexpectedly at some point in their career, according to brand new research from, the site that compares virtually everything.

The findings, which came from a survey of 2,085 Australians, reveal that this equates over 5 million Australian workers who have had to use their leave without warning.

The research shows that the biggest cause of extended leave is due to illness or injury (14%).

That’s the equivalent of 1.7 million adults who have had to take off over four weeks unexpectedly, for health reasons.

While the average length of a career break is 17 months, females take off around 20 months on average compared to just 13 months for men.

Other reasons for taking extended leave from work include having a baby (12%), redundancy (6%) and caring for a relative (3%).

Female workers (39%) are far more likely to take time off work for an unexpected issue than their male counterparts (28%).

Redundancy has affected Baby Boomers the most (11%), compared to 6% of Generation X and only 4% of Generation Y workers.

Bessie Hassan, Income Protection Expert at, says few Australians can afford to be out of work, even if it’s temporary.

“These workers could be caught off guard if something happens and they end up needing to dip into their savings,” she said.

“Some workplaces may have a scheme in place that allows workers to dip into annual or unpaid leave, but this isn’t always guaranteed and it’s not something to bank on.”

“You never know when you may need to take an unexpected break from work, and employees should have safety nets in place in case they don’t have enough leave accrued to support the time off.

“Consider contributing money into a rainy day savings account and take out income protection to cover lost earnings.

“This can allow those who have to take extended leave unexpectedly to receive a proportion of their income as a payout from their insurer.”

According to the research, Tasmanians are by far the most likely workers of any state to take time off for an illness or injury, with a total of 27% affected, compared to only 12% of West Australians who have had a minimum of a month off work for an ailment.

South Australians are overwhelmingly the state least likely to have taken an unwanted career break, with over three in five (66%) saying they’ve never been forced to take leave of more than a month.


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12.6 million average unique monthly audience (June- September 2019), Nielsen Digital Panel

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