A few years ago, I wrote a blog about how Australia compared to the rest of the world when it comes to paid days off. I have just re-visited the research and Straya once again has taken the cake when it comes to paid time off compared with the rest of the world. Yes, you heard it here first.

As I went down the rabbit hole, I went deep. My god what a ride I really had to stop myself and it was so interesting to see how all the different countries measured up!

But how did this story start? Well, a few weeks ago I posted a comment on a really popular HR content creator’s Instagram. Her name is Ashley Herd aka @managermethod and she shared a video comparing Australia to the United States when it comes to things like the right to disconnect, long service leave, and general work-life balance.

You can check out the post here. It is a super interesting take on how we compare to the land of the free! I jumped into the comments section and dropped this:

It created quite the stir. My favourite comments were:

So @tonill and @penelopesands I did go and have a look and what I found out was that Australia does in fact have some of the most generous paid entitlements in the world. Yes maybe we don’t have the most public holidays but when you add it all up, we are extremely generous when compared to other OECD countries.

I have broken it down and compared Australia with 11 different countries. You can see the detailed research in the appendix below but here is a real quick and dirty summary:

*This total includes annual leave, personal leave, sick leave, carers leave, public holidays, bereavement leave, and domestic violence leave. This does not include parental or paternity leave. I had to stop somewhere!

** Average entitlement

*** Max potential entitlement (excluding LSL)

**** Maximum entitlement for employees with 7 years of service

Ok so the minimum entitlements for Australia and Germany are super close! In Australia we get 56 days and in Germany it’s 59 (this is because they have 6 weeks of paid sick leave which is 20 days more than us)! BUT overall Australia has more generous entitlements so I am going with us taking the cake. Prove me wrong. I know some of you will lose your minds but seriously. I don’t care! Australia wins, we by and far have better leave on offer than all the countries I compared us to.

Australia and New Zealand were very close but overall Australia has some additional entitlements when we include all our leave types and the average leave entitlement.

So why does Australia have such generous employment conditions? The answer many believe stems way back to the 1800’s and involves the story of the Tolpuddle Martyrs. In March 1834 six English farm labourers were sentenced to 7 years transportation to a penal colony in Australia – for being in a trade union. This started what many believe to be a history rich in the Trade Union movement as the story captured the hearts and minds of the working class, this drove the movement of our ex-convicts and new settlers who were seeking fair treatment in the rugged new colony of Australia.

This led to Australia leading the charge in terms of government-legislated initiatives to protect working conditions. I will share a full history of our IR system in another post. Because this is also a HUGE topic to cover!

But what we have today is an extremely generous set of government-mandated paid leave provisions (along with a whole bunch of other rules and regulations that I cannot go too much into here as there is A LOT). But what was really fascinating was that, unlike many other countries, all our leave provisions are 100% funded by businesses. Whether the organisation is big or small we have mandatory national employment standards that must be met by all employers.

Probably our most unique and generous entitlement is to what we call Long Service Leave. This encourages loyalty and longer service tenures to employers and sometimes this benefit is even portable if you move around jobs in the same industry!

This entitlement is effectively the cherry on top where essentially after 10 years of service you are entitled to 13 weeks paid time off. (The detail is slightly different based on which state you live in but I have used Victoria’s for this research) In Victoria you can access this leave at 7 years (6.1 weeks paid leave) so it really is an amazing entitlement to give employees a break and is even applicable to permanent part-time, salaried, and casual employees!

Also, it doesn’t stop there, Australia is one of only 4 countries globally that offer paid domestic violence leave. This includes the Philippines, New Zealand, and some states in Canada, and we were one of the first countries to introduce this entitlement which is designed to assist employees who are dealing with domestic violence in their lives.

We also offer 10 days of personal leave that can be used when you are sick or also used to care for immediate family members should they be unwell. In Australia (unlike many other countries) personal leave accumulates year after year so if you have been with an employer for a long time and you don’t use it and become unwell you can utilise sometimes months of leave which is of course extremely useful when you have a serious illness and need to support yourself financially.

The other form of leave that Australia provides is what is called bereavement leave. This is separate from your personal leave and includes 2 days per occasion should an immediate family member die. This does not come out of your personal leave balance so once again extremely generous.

So there you have it, not only is Australia, the land of endless beaches, deadly creatures and laid-back people, we also have amazingly generous working conditions. And I guess if you work in Australia you should be grateful for this as all of this is all funded by your employer! I do give a shout out to Germany you gave it a good crack but I think we can confirm that we got you with our Long Service mate.

If you need help with anything leave-related then get in touch. Watch this space as a new blog is soon to be released explaining Long Service Leave.

Written by resident Head Guru Emily Jaksch.



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