Originally Published in Deals on Wheels Issue 496
The year is well past the midway point and many of us are at least vaguely thinking about our next holiday.
If you’re on social media, it’s hard to miss endless happy snaps of friends and acquaintances having a great time in the Northern Hemisphere.
Reality isn’t social media and not many of us will grow up to be an “influencer”.
Statistics firmly say those people sunning themselves in the Greek Islands are in the minority.
Australians don’t take enough holidays.
There. I said it.
Data from Roy Morgan from early this year showed that 8.1 million Australians in paid employment had banked more than 185 million days of annual leave.
That’s an increase of 149.5 million days on the same time a year before, and a record.
Whether you’re an employer, an employee, self-employed or a contractor, numbers like that make the mind boggle.
Perhaps inflation, a relatively weak Australian dollar and interest rates have something to do with it.
The pandemic isn’t officially over but it’s not like nobody can travel, even domestically.
OK, I hear you.
I realise that with driver shortages, this isn’t a topic that’s top of mind with most employers. It’s hard enough finding drivers to deliver on a freight task that’s always increasing.
And with NatRoad largely being an employer group, advocating for employees to take more time off when economic times are tight doesn’t sound quite right.
It’s not that black and white.
Ours is an industry built on safety, however, and common sense says that not having annual leave isn’t conducive to great mental or physical health.
Most employers aren’t at the coalface driving day in and day out, but stress is a common denominator for us all.
So I’m not just talking about employees flying the coop.
The Fair Work Commission stresses that an employer can only direct an employee to take annual leave in some situations.
These include when the business is closed during the Christmas and New Year period or an employee has accumulated excess annual leave.
How and when these rules apply vary depending on the award or registered agreement.
At this stage I’ll put in a plug for Fair Work’s leave calculator https://calculate.fairwork.gov.au/Leave
And if you’re a NatRoad member, navigating the award system and correctly calculating entitlements is as simple as a phone call to one of our advisers.
NatRoad has publicly said that there’s never been a more important time for employers to have common sense and a degree of sensitivity in dealing with employees.
Negotiating annual leave with a driver who wants to keep working is one of those situations.
From an employer perspective, it doesn’t make business sense to carry large liabilities from one financial year to another.
A study by the America’s International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans has found that employees who take their annual leaves are 40 percent more productive and less irritable, depressed, forgetful and easily fatigued compared to employees who don’t.
Refreshed, happy and alert employees are productive employees, whether they’re behind a wheel or doing the books.