5.3million Aussies forced to take leave for Christmas
FORCED annual leave can be one of the most frustrating parts of corporate life - and new figures have revealed a whopping 5.3 million of us will be affected this year.
According to finder.com.au, almost one in two workers will be using their leave this holiday season - whether they want to or not.
The research found that 21 per cent of workers will be made to take more than two weeks off over Christmas, with staff obliged to take 8.3 days off work on average.
And almost one million workers will have to take three weeks or more off, which could leave them with no leave left for holidays throughout the year.
Sydney business development manager John Russell will be forced to take seven days off this year, and he said it was a frustrating problem for many employees.
"Unfortunately it's non-negotiable. The issue is I've just cracked back into positive leave and now I have to take another seven days off, so I'll be back into the negative," he said.
"It means I can't take holidays later in the year when I actually want to take them. My old man turns 70 in April and I was going to take four days off for that. They've said I can go, but it will mean I'll go deeper into negative leave which is an issue in itself.
"It's a new business and a lot of people haven't accumulated enough annual leave yet to even maintain a positive balance. I've only been in the business for six months, and I'm not the only one in this position.
"It's frustrating because it also means we're forced to take leave during Christmas, when holidays are the most expensive. I went to Central America last year at the same time and the round trip cost me $3000 on flights when it usually costs half to two-thirds, so I've seen first-hand how expensive it is to travel at this time of the year."
Unfortunately for some, Shine Lawyers employment law expert Will Barsby said employers were legally entitled to force workers to take annual leave during slow periods like Christmas and Easter.
"Your boss may seem to be the Christmas Grinch, but legally they are entitled to force you to take leave over slow periods. It comes down to whether it's common practice in the industry, but employees, so long as they are given reasonable notice, do have to take their forced annual leave," he said.
"The good bosses out there will let employees go into negative leave and let you make it back up over the year ahead if you are forced to take leave over Christmas.
"There needs to be an open dialogue between employees and employers. Bosses need to be mindful of the financial impact forced leave can have on families … and if you have to take leave, you should plan accordingly."
However, many embrace the compulsory shutdown.
Melbourne mum Rachel Perkins, director of Just Mums Recruitment, said the company would shut down for two to three weeks this year - but that the forced leave was additional to her employees' regular annual leave, meaning everyone got extra time off.
"We're all about work/life balance so for us it's a no-brainer," she said.
"We're a small business so to have staff on [over the festive season] is incredibly costly for us. We do recruitment so it's a very, very quiet time with low activity for the industry.
"The forced leave doesn't come off our staff's annual leave so it's actually very well received and a good selling point. It means we have time to switch off work, have time with family and come back fresh, ready to smash it in January."