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Australian Payroll Association CEO Tracy Angwin
Australian Payroll Association CEO Tracy Angwin

Are long working hours and work-related stress having a detrimental effect on your health? If so, you’re not the only one: new research has revealed that sick leave has increased across 1 in 3 organisations – and 72 per cent of organisations have reported that some employees have not taken annual leave since Christmas 2017.

In May this year, the World Health Organisation officially recognised burnout as a workplace phenomenon, and a result of chronic workplace stress[1].

The research was derived from a survey of more than 600 payroll managers by the Australian Payroll Association – Australia’s leading network in payroll training, consulting and advisory. It found that 35 per cent of the country’s big and small organisations have seen an increase in sick leave across their workforce.

Of concern, 71 per cent of payroll managers reported that there are employees in their organisation who have not taken annual leave for more than 18 months (outside of forced workplace closure periods). One in 4 (23 per cent) of payroll managers reported that this was up to 5 per cent of their organisation’s employees. Further, 72 per cent said their organisation had no system in place to ensure employees take their annual leave every year.

Increase in sick leave occurring mostly in larger organisations 

Larger organisations reported having the highest growth in sick leave. Thirty-six (36) per cent of large organisations (more than 500 employees) saw an increase in sick leave, compared with just 20 per cent of micro-businesses (less than 10 employees). This could be due to the lack of resources in small companies preventing employees from shifting their workload to another employee when they are away.

Large organisations also saw a higher proportion of employees failing to take annual leave. In 32 per cent of medium-sized and large organisations (200-5000 employees), up to 5 per cent of employees had not taken annual leave in the last 18 months (outside of forced closure periods). This compares with just 12 per cent of small businesses (up to 50 employees) who had up to 5 per cent of employees failing to take annual leave.

Employees in retail, IT/telco and education were the most affected

The industries with the largest proportion of organisations reporting sick leave increases are education and training industry (in which 47 per cent of payroll managers reported an increase in sick leave), IT, telecommunications, utilities and energy (44 per cent), and hospital, healthcare and disability services (40 per cent).

Australian Payroll Association CEO Tracy Angwin says: “Higher work demands and longer commute times could make anyone feel exhausted and overwhelmed. As an employee, if you are feeling burnt out you can ask your employer to consider flexible working arrangements. This can relate to the hours of work, days of work and even the location of your work. Employers know that keeping their employees happy promotes feelings of loyalty and ensures longevity in the workplace.

“When you are feeling overworked it is crucial that that you let you notify your employer so that they can look at how to re-distribute your workload. Another way to avoid workplace burnout is to keep track of your annual leave so once you accrue four weeks leave it can serve as a reminder to book a week or two off to re-set and recharge.”

Australian Payroll Association’s pay rate results, taken from 601 payroll managers

Q: Have you seen an increase in sick leave in your organisation? (Organisation size)

 

 

 

Total % of respondents

% with 1-10 employees

% with 11-50 employees

% 51-200 employees

% with 201-500

employees

% with 501-1000 employees

% with 1001-5000 employees

% with 5001-10,000 employees

Yes

35%

20%

35%

41%

7.34%

32%

40%

35%

No

65%

80%

65%

59%

51.38%

68%

60%

65%

 

Q: Have you seen an increase in sick leave in your organisation? (Organisation size)

 

 

 

% of respondents in the retail and e-commerce industry

% of respondents in the manufacturing industry

% of respondents in the scientific and technical industries

% of respondents in the healthcare industry

% of responders in the IT and telco industry

% of respondents in the building and construction industry

% of respondents in the financial and insurance services industry

% of respondents in the education and training industry

Yes

31%

39%

23%

40%

44%

35%

31%

47%

No

69%

61%

77%

60%

56%

65%

69%

53%

 

About Australian Payroll Association

Australian Payroll Association is Australia’s leading network in payroll training, consulting and advisory for employers. It offers end-to-end payroll process reviews, compliance auditing, specialist recruitment services, payroll qualifications and training courses, and a membership program. Established in 2010, Australian Payroll Association offers the only nationally accredited payroll qualifications at Certificate IV and Diploma level through its registered training organisation, Australian Payroll Institute. It also holds annual events including its national conference and end of year seminars, in addition to releasing an annual Payroll Benchmarking Report. It also has a regular digital podcast series called ‘Talking Payroll’. For more information, visit austpayroll.com.au.

[1] World Health Organisation, ‘Burn-out an “occupational phenomenon”: International Classification of Diseases”’: https://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/burn-out/en/

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