Media Release

One in three Aussies forced to take annual leave at Christmas

  • Over 340,000 Australians (4.2%) will be forced to take 3-4 weeks off this Christmas
  • reveals NSW workers most likely to take forced leave in December and January (32.4%)
  • Top tips for checking rights on annual leave requirements

19 December, 2016, Sydney, Australia – More than two million Australian employees are being forced to take their annual leave over the Christmas period, according to, Australia’s most visited comparison website1.

The survey of 2,026 Australians reveals 13% of workers will be forced by their employers to take one week off, while a further 11% are required to take two weeks leave due to the number of workplaces that shut their doors over the Christmas-New Year period.

Over 340,000 Australians (4.2%) will involuntarily take three or four weeks off, the majority of their annual leave days, during the slow business trading period in December and January.

Bessie Hassan, Money Expert at, said some employees may be taking compulsory leave begrudgingly.

“While expecting staff to take one week off at Christmas is reasonable, especially if they have excess annual leave days, more than that is unfair and could cause financial hardship and stress down the line, particularly for new employees who don’t have enough annual leave accrued,” she said.

“For Aussie workers, forced annual leave means they aren’t able to choose when they holiday. Accommodation and airfare prices are up to 103% higher during this peak time and some may not be able to afford to go away, and those who do will be paying through the roof,” said Ms Hassan.

“It also makes setting aside some leave for a mid-year break or an unexpected event much harder,” she said.

According to the Fair Work Ombudsman an employer can only direct an employee to take annual leave when the business is closed during the Christmas and New Year period and when an employee has accumulated excess annual leave.

“If you are unsure if you are required to take annual leave, check the terms of your registered agreement for information. To find a registered agreement, visit the Fair Work Commission website.”

Ms Hassan said while time off work is important both mentally and physically, employees should be able to choose when they take their annual leave.

“Imagine if you were saving your annual leave for something important like a new baby or visiting relatives but you were forced to take it at Christmas.”

“Having a few annual leave days up your sleeve can help cover you in an emergency as not everyone has enough savings to cover themselves for an extended period of absence,” she said.

She urged employees to consider income protection to avoid worrying about not having access to leave if they became sick or injured, especially if all annual and personal leave has been used up for the year.

Generation breakdown

  • Generation Y are forced by their employers to take more annual leave at Christmas than any other generation.
  • Almost one in five (17.21%) Gen Y are made to take one week off, compared to 15.04% of Generation X and 4.46% of Baby Boomers.
  • Three times as many Gen Y (13.15%) and Gen X (13.55%) workers are forced to take two weeks off in December and January as Baby Boomers (4.87%).

State by state

  • One in five (20.22%) West Australians are forced to take leave during the Christmas-New Year period - less than any other state or territory, followed by Queensland (23.49%), and South Australia (24%).
  • New South Wales workers are the most likely of any Australian workers to be forced to take leave in December and January (32.4%).
  • 15.02% of NSW employees are forced to take two weeks off, compared to only 7.83% of Queenslanders.

1Experian Hitwise since 2015


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