Need a holiday? Here are the annual leave dates to take off to maximise your time

An empty office cubicle with a telephone off the hook.
Credit: Erik Von Weber, Getty Images

Planning annual leave is somewhat of a sport for Australians. After the year that was 2021, we could all use a little extra time away from Zoom meetings.

If you’re keen on making the most of your annual leave and not sure where to start, then read on because we’re about to show you how you can turn 15 days of annual leave into 36 days off throughout 2022 and into next year. This’ll leave most people with 5 spare days to play with.

What is annual leave?

Annual leave is essentially paid time off. If you’re not at work any day that you usually get paid to work and you’re still paid for it, that’s annual leave. 

If you’re a full-time or part-time employee, then you’re entitled to a minimum of 4 weeks annual leave per year under the National Employment Standards. You can also let your unused annual leave accumulate from year to year if you feel like saving for a rainy day (or an overseas summer). Unfortunately for casual employees, you generally don’t receive paid annual leave.

Why is taking annual leave important?

According to a recent Roy Morgan report, over 8.1 million Australians in paid employment now have over 185 million days of annual leave due - a record high. While accruing it with a goal in mind - like going on a long overseas holiday - is a completely valid idea, there are myriad benefits to taking time off each year.

Heads Up, a mental health advocacy group, claims that taking breaks from work helps not only employees on an individual level but it can benefit the wider organisation too. They found that, for employees, taking a break from the work cycle reduces stress levels, improves mood, and boosts their health (even lowering the risk of heart attacks in the long term). For the wider organisation, team morale improves, productivity increases due to staff having more energy, employee retention rates increase because nobody’s burning out, and it can even lead to a decrease in unplanned absences.

Maximise your annual leave by lining it up with public holidays

It’s a good idea to nominate your annual leave days as early as possible. That way you’re not competing for time off with your fellow employees come the holidays. While some public holidays differ from state to state, the major holidays (Australia Day, Easter, Anzac Day, Christmas, and New Years) are all good opportunities to snag a little extra time off this year.

Here are the dates you need to know:

Australia Day 2022

Dates to take off: January 24th - January 28th, 2022.

Your holiday: January 22nd - January 30th, 2022 (9 days).

The Australia Day public holiday falls on Wednesday the 26th of January, smack-bang in the middle of the week. By taking off two days either side of it, you’ll end up with 5 days off. Add the two weekends before and after it, and you’ll have a nice 9 days off to enjoy however you like. It’s like a holiday Oreo.

  • Saturday, January 22nd: Weekend
  • Sunday, January 23rd: Weekend
  • Monday, January 24th: Annual leave
  • Tuesday, January 25th: Annual leave
  • Wednesday, January 26th: Australia Day public holiday
  • Thursday, January 27th: Annual leave
  • Friday, January 28th: Annual leave
  • Saturday, January 29th: Weekend
  • Sunday, January 30th: Weekend

Easter & ANZAC Day 2022

Dates to take off: April 19th - April 22nd, April 26th - April 29th, 2022.

Your holiday: April 15th - May 1st, 2022 (17 days).

This is the big one. You don’t need to be some kind of annual leave alchemist to turn 8 days off into a 17 day streak. Sewing together the public holidays by taking 8 days of annual leave during the weekdays between and after Easter and ANZAC Day will give you over two weeks of paid leave. That’s enough for a lengthy stint in another state, or more time with loved ones.

  • Friday, April 15th: Good Friday public holiday
  • Saturday, April 16th: Weekend
  • Sunday, April 17th: Easter Sunday (weekend)
  • Monday, April 18th: Easter Sunday public holiday
  • Tuesday, April 19th: Annual leave 
  • Wednesday, April 20th: Annual leave
  • Thursday, April 21st: Annual leave
  • Friday, April 22nd: Annual leave
  • Saturday, April 23rd: Weekend
  • Sunday, April 24th: Weekend
  • Monday, April 25th: ANZAC Day
  • Tuesday, April 26th: Annual leave
  • Wednesday, April 27th: Annual leave
  • Thursday, April 28th: Annual leave
  • Friday, April 29th: Annual leave
  • Saturday, April 30th: Weekend
  • Sunday, May 1st: Weekend

Christmas & New Year 2023

Dates to take off: December 28th - December 30th, 2022.

Your holiday: December 24th, 2022 - January 2nd, 2023.

This is one for the early-birds and those who want to take the edge off the silly season. The end of the year can be a pretty crazy time, between organising your Christmas celebrations, seeing family and friends, and deciding what to do for New Year’s Eve. By getting in early you could give yourself a pleasant 10 day break over the Christmas and New Year period, so you can focus on what really matters.

  • Saturday, December 24th: Weekend
  • Sunday, December 25th: Christmas day (weekend)
  • Monday, December 26th: Boxing Day public holiday
  • Tuesday, December 27th: Christmas Day public holiday
  • Wednesday, December 28th: Annual leave
  • Thursday, December 29th: Annual leave
  • Friday, December 30th: Annual leave
  • Saturday, January 31st, 2022: Weekend (New Year’s Day)
  • Sunday, January 1st: Weekend
  • Monday, January 2nd: New Year’s Day public holiday

Where can Australians travel in 2022?

Despite different variants of the COVID-19 virus still floating around our heads and headlines, Australians who are fully vaccinated and in possession of an international COVID-19 vaccination certificate (ICVC), or proof of medical exemption, are currently allowed to leave the country. You won’t need to possess a travel exemption either. 

However, if you’re travelling overseas, your international travel insurance might not cover you for any COVID-19 related claims, depending if your destination is considered high-risk by the Australian government’s Smartraveller warnings. So, before you go booking your annual leave holidays, make sure you check the travel advice warnings for your destination. 

At the time of writing, there are a number of countries which have been labelled with a Level 2 Smartraveller warning, of which the advice directs you to ‘exercise a high degree of caution’. Some travel insurance providers will cover you for any claims related to COVID-19 at this advice level, however it’s always important to read the relevant product disclosure statement (PDS) to make sure. Once the advice hits Level 3 (reconsider your need to travel) or Level 4 (do not travel), then that’s when most travel insurance providers will tap out from covering you. This doesn’t only go for COVID-19, however, and can include warning related to terrorism threats and civil unrest.

When it comes to domestic travel, all of Australia’s states and territories, except WA, are (at the time of writing) open for business. This is good news for those wishing to take a shorter holiday interstate, during the time they’ve taken off. While many of the states and territories are open for interstate travel, it’s always a good idea to make sure that there aren’t any entry requirements you need to meet in order to cross the border. 

Even if you’re going on a short domestic holiday, purchasing domestic travel insurance is a good way of making sure you actually enjoy your time off, instead of fretting about something going wrong. Booking it well before you actually leave for your holiday is also a good idea, as it can cover you if you need to cancel your trip for one reason or another. Check out this article which talks about claims being made before you’ve even left the front door. 

If you’re planning on heading on holidays during your annual leave break, then check out Mozo’s comparison tool for the perfect travel insurance deals.

Annual leave holiday tips

Here’s a run-down of the tips you need to know about maximising your annual leave holidays:

  • Full-time and part-time employees are entitled to minimum 4 weeks annual leave per year under the National Employment Standards
  • Taking a break from work is good for your mental health and for the business as a whole 
  • Nominate your annual leave days as early as possible
  • String together public holidays when you can, by taking off weekdays during Easter and ANZAC Day
  • International travel is back on the cards in 2022, but you must have a ICVC (vaccination certificate)
  • Your travel insurance provider may not cover you for COVID-19 related claims if you’re travelling to a high-risk country 
  • Most Australian states and territories have opened their borders, but check to make sure there aren’t any entry requirements
  • Domestic travel insurance can cover you if you need to cancel or delay your trip, even before it begins.