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3 in 10 Australian employers offering unlimited annual leave days

Survey reveals 30% already offer unlimited leave.

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37% said they plan to offer the benefit in the future.
Major employers are planning to expand emploee leave to 5 weeks.
This move could hurt small and medium businesses.

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Three in 10 employers in Australia are already offering unlimited annual leave days amid strong demand from employees, according to a new report from Robert Half.

Robert Half’s survey among 1,000 workers and 500 business leaders in November revealed that 30% are offering unlimited annual leave days as a flexible work option.

Another 37% said they plan to offer the benefit in the future. The offer comes amid strong demand from employees in Australia, with 58% of 1,000 workers surveyed saying they would like to have unlimited leave days introduced by their employer.

Nicole Gorton, Robert Half director, said the findings indicate that employers are “recognising the value of time as a currency.”

“Additional annual leave entitlements have become a strategic investment for some, not just in attracting professionals, but in fostering a culture that prioritises well-being and work-life harmony,” Gorton said in a statement.

According to Gorton, employers are offering the benefit to attract and retain employees, who see the perk as a “strong point of differentiation for the employer.”

“Additional leave days are a cost-effective way to enhance the overall employee experience and elevate staff morale and satisfaction,” the director said.

Additional leave days are a cost-effective way to enhance the overall employee experience

Five-week annual leave

The survey was released amid reports that major Australian employers, such as IKEA and Big W, are backing initiatives to expand employees’ paid leave to five weeks a year.

Employers including Coles, Woolworths, and Kmart are also considering the move, according to the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA), as reported by 7News.

SDA NSW secretary Bernie Smith said employees deserve an extra week of annual leave after years of low wages growth.

“We also know the importance of a healthy work-life balance for workers and the benefits this creates for customers and businesses,” Smith told The Sydney Morning Herald.

Business NSW chief executive Daniel Hunter, however, warned that this move could hurt small and medium business. “If widely adopted, it could add billions of dollars in cost to the books of already struggling businesses – limiting their growth and ability to borrow,” Hunter told the Herald.

Last year, the Ai Group also said there is “no sensible justification” for increasing annual leave entitlements to six weeks, stressing that it would cause cost and productivity difficulties for employers.

Gorton said offering five or six weeks of annual leave, even unlimited paid leave, is a “double-edged sword” in the workplace.

“On one side, it cultivates a culture of employee well-being, fostering satisfaction, work-life harmony, and heightened productivity,” Gorton said.

“However, it requires thorough workforce planning to iron out potential operational challenges, requiring a delicate balance between organizational flexibility and the need for a contented and rejuvenated workforce.”

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