Forcing People to Take Holidays

By | Category: Travel rumblings

There was a headline in the Australian Financial Review, AFR, (the Aussie Financial Times equivalent) that said “Everyone needs a big holiday.” You might have thought that this was one of those health articles that says that we function better after taking a 14 day holiday from work enabling us to return recharged and invigorated. But no, the health aspect was barely covered.
Whereas in the UK it is often the case that if you don’t take your holiday with 12 months you lose the entitlement, it appears that, in Australia, you can add the days up. The Resources and Tourism Minister, Martin Ferguson, started a campaign 2 years ago to encourage workers to take their holiday entitlement. The AFR said that, even now, there were 118 million days of holiday that still hadn’t been taken, a drop of just 5 million over the two year period. Roughly for every man, woman child and baby in the whole country, 6 days of holiday were owed by companies to their employees. The concern of companies was that this amounted to about $A33.9 billion (say £21 billion) that companies had to carry as liabilities in their balance sheets. Looked at in hard economic reality, some companies were seen as liabilities and could, theoretically, collapse under the weight of holidays not taken.
Mr Ferguson told the AFR that it was “economically irresponsible” to allow staff not to take holidays. (Wearing his other hat of tourism minister you could say that he was just launching a tourism promotion!) Tourism Australia apparently gives 3 days extra holiday per year to employees who don’t carry more than 10 days holiday forward. (Isn’t that just adding to the problem? Why not give them 3 days pay?) At Carnival Cruises, every 3 months there is a report for managers on who hasn’t taken leave when it reaches 8 days. But Leighton Holidays is one of the few companies that limits the amount of leave you can carry forward to 6 weeks.
So part from Mr Ferguson saying that people can’t continue to work without taking a break and a union official saying that, for some single people, work is their life there seems little talk of how not having substantial breaks can affect health. I have worked for companies that put into their contracts of employment that at least 10 days of holiday has to be taken in one go because they believe that employees need to have a break from work sufficiently long enough for them to forget work and relax.
The need to take a break seems fairly well accepted by both employers and employees in the UK. Australia seems to see it more just as an economic problem.

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