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It’s official: Australians have more annual leave due than ever before

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), April 2016 – September 2021. Average annual interviews for each 12 months period, n=12,367. Base: Australians 14+ in paid employment who are entitled to annual leave.
New data from Roy Morgan shows over 8.1 million Australians in paid employment now have over 185 million days of annual leave due – up from 149.5 million days a year ago. There are a further 5 million workers in paid employment who have no leave.

The accrued annual leave of over 185 million days is a record high total of accrued annual leave and represents an increase of 35.5 million (+23.7%) on the 149.5 million days of accrued annual leave Australians had available in September 2020 one year ago.

On a discrete quarterly basis the increase in accrued annual leave during this year’s lockdowns caused by the outbreak of the Delta variant are even more apparent. In the March quarter 2021 Australia’s paid workers had total annual leave accrued of 174.6 million days. Since then, total annual leave accrued has increased substantially in the following two quarters to a record high of 193.7 million days in the September quarter 2021.

It should be noted that usually an annual measure of total annual leave accrued is preferred as this removes seasonal factors that mean total annual leave accrued declines in the March quarter each year as people take summer holidays and then increases during the autumn and winter months.

Total annual leave accrued owed to Australia’s paid workers (2017-2021)

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), April 2016 – September 2021. Average annual interviews for each 12 months period, n=12,367. Base: Australians 14+ in paid employment who are entitled to annual leave.

Now 6.7 million Australians (50.7% of paid workers) have at least 2 weeks of annual leave due, up from 5.8 million (46%) a year ago, while fewer than 1.42 million (10.7%) have less than 2 weeks due compared to over 1.76 million (14.1%) a year ago.

There have been slight increases in annual leave due tor periods greater than 2 weeks compared to a year ago. Now 1.61 million Australians (12.2% of paid workers) have 2-3 weeks of annual leave due – the most common time period of annual leave due, up from 1.33 million (10.6%).

In addition, there are now 1.39 million Australians (10.5% of paid workers) who have at least 7 weeks of annual leave due, up slightly from 1.22 million a year ago (9.7%).

A large cohort of 5.08 million Australians (38.6% of paid workers) have no annual leave due, up slightly from the 4.99 million (39.9%) without any annual leave a year ago.

For more detail see Roy Morgan’s employment estimates on the latest trends in Australia’s employment markets: ‘Australian unemployment unchanged at 9.2% in November after the end of lockdowns.’

Annual leave owed to Australia’s paid workers by length of time (2021 vs. 2020)


Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), October 2019 – September 2021, average annual interviews n=24,517.
Base: Australians 14+ in paid employment. *Annual leave owed is calculated based on (working) days owed. Less than 2 weeks: 1-9 days; 2 weeks – under 3 weeks: 10-14 days; 3 weeks – under 4 weeks: 15-19 days; 4 weeks – under 5 weeks: 20-24 days; 5 weeks – under 7 weeks: 25-34 days; 7+ weeks: 35+ days.


These results are from the Roy Morgan Single Source survey, derived from comprehensive in-depth interviews with over 1,000 Australians each week and around 50,000 Australians per year.

Heading into the 2021/22 summer break Australians have a record amount of annual leave saved up with many holidays put off, or never even booked, since the pandemic began early last year says Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine:

“The COVID-19 pandemic struck Australia in March 2020 and more than 18 months later the country is slowly emerging into the ‘COVID-normal’ period with a highly vaccinated population allowed to travel freely both around the country, and also overseas. The exception of course is Western Australia which is set to keep its borders largely closed until February 2022.

“Since the pandemic began the total amount of annual leave accrued by working Australians has steadily increased and reached a record high of over 185 million days in the 12 months to September 2021 when around 15 million Australians were in lockdown in NSW and Victoria. This is up over 35 million days (+23.7%) from a year ago.

“A closer look at how much annual leave Australians have accrued shows all time periods of annual leave due longer than two weeks have increased. Now 50.7% of Australia’s paid workers, 6.7 million people, have at least two weeks leave compared to 46% of paid workers a year ago.

“There have been slight declines in those paid workers who have less than two weeks of annual leave available or no annual leave available. In contrast, there are now 1.39 million Australians who now have at least 7 weeks of annual leave due – up from 1.22 million a year ago.

“Although Australians are now (largely) free to travel around the country (although not to and from Western Australia), the international borders do remain largely closed to foreign tourists for the next few months at least.

“The continuing closure of the international borders to foreign tourists means it is more important than ever for domestic travel and tourism operators to appeal to the 6.7 million Australians who have at least two weeks of annual leave up their sleeve.

“The largest markets of NSW and Victoria have been hardest hit by COVID-19 over the last two years and present the biggest opportunity for tourism operators in Queensland, Tasmania and South Australia to tap into over the next six months while international travel remains somewhat uncertain given the continuing pandemic.”


Related research findings
View our Roy Morgan Holiday Intention Leading Indicator Report, or profiles of Australians who intend to holiday in various locations, such as Bali, Adelaide, Barossa Valley, Brisbane and many more.

Roy Morgan’s travel and tourism research quantifies the dollar-value of the tourism industry’s diverse markets; and includes detailed information and insights into what activities people look for when travelling, who they travel with, where they get their information, whose advice they seek when planning a holiday and much more.

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