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Australian workers had 151 million days of annual leave when the country entered COVID-19 shutdown

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), April 2005 – March 2020. Average annual interviews for each 12 months period, n=6,136. Base: Australians 14+ in paid employment who are entitled to annual leave.

The latest figures from Roy Morgan show Australians in paid employment had over 151 million days’ worth of annual leave, up 8.7 million days (+6.1%) on a year ago, as Australia entered shut-down in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The accrued annual leave of over 151 million days was the highest total of accrued annual leave for eight years since March 2012 and equates to an average of over 16 days for each paid worker in Australia.

Only 10% of Australia’s paid workers had no annual leave owed to them, while a further 14% had up to 2 weeks accrued. Nearly a quarter of paid workers (23%) had between two and four weeks of annual leave accrued and another one-in-ten had around a month owed to them. More than one-in-five paid workers (21%) had at least five weeks’ worth as yet unused.

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

Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine says the shut-downs enforced to halt the spread of COVID-19 around Australia have put domestic holidays firmly on the agenda as Australia begins to open-up:

“The successful handling of the COVID-19 pandemic by Australian Federal and State Governments including various payments has given a significant boost to ANZ-Roy Morgan Consumer Confidence – now at 97.5 in early June, up a massive 32.2pts (+49%) since the record low on March 28/29, 2020.

“The rising confidence and staged opening of the domestic economy are raising hopes there will be a domestic tourism ‘bonanza’ during the latter half of 2020 as international travel remains banned.

“It’s true that many Australians have been forced to taken unplanned annual leave by being stood down or as part of other employment changes forced by the COVID-19 shut-down. However, the 151 million days of annual leave ‘banked’ by working Australians by March 2020 is an eight year high and will come in handy when State border restrictions are relaxed and holidaymakers can travel around the country.

Roy Morgan Holiday Travel Intention data shows the average overseas holiday is planned to be nearly three weeks long compared to only three or four nights away for domestic holidays. The indefinite ban on overseas travel means Australians may be looking for longer domestic holidays over the next six months.

“Local travel and tourism businesses need to be on the front foot to appeal to this expanded pool of travellers over the next few weeks and months as Australians book-in their summer getaways. Although the international travel ban looks set to continue into 2021 there is considerable uncertainty about how and when the ban will be relaxed.

“Trans-Tasman neighbour New Zealand has already eliminated the virus and many countries in East Asia such as Japan, Taiwan and South Korea, as well as the US island of Hawaii, currently have very low case-loads of COVID-19 at a comparable level to Australia or lower.”

Total annual leave accrued owed to Australia’s paid workers (2006-2020)

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), April 2005 – March 2020. Average annual interviews for each 12 months period, n=6,136. Base: Australians 14+ in paid employment who are entitled to annual leave.

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About Roy Morgan

Roy Morgan is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices throughout Australia, as well as in Indonesia, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%