Saturday, March 23, 2019

Leave Liability

Here in Australia, employers nowadays seem to be very concerned about people not taking their annual leave entitlements. If your balance gets above a certain amount you are likely to get a message from HR telling you take vacation days before some deadline. I got one of these recently and promptly ignored it. It's not that I haven't taken some breaks. Maybe formally though I was only on leave for a couple of weeks this financial year. I think they might just put me on forced vacation from 1 July which is OK with me (see below why)...

I supervise one other academic. I was told to make a plan with him to reduce his leave liability. He has ended up scheduling a bunch of mini-vacations when he plans to work anyway.

My wife also got a request from her employer to schedule a lot of leave before 1 July. She contacted HR and told them that she couldn't take leave as she has a lot of work to get done. She only works 3 days a week. Their solution? She should switch to full time and take leave on the days she wouldn't be working! This is a win-win solution :)

It might be an even bigger win for us. Moominmama will be going on maternity leave from the end of May. Yes, we are going to have a second child. She plans to be on leave for at least a year.

I think this means that the 18 (?) weeks of maternity pay from her employer will be paid at the full time rate. Also, last time, they made employer superannuation contributions (15.4% of base salary) for the whole year. These too look like they'll be at the full time rate now.

This seems really crazy from the employer's perspective. I don't understand why employers are so concerned about having this "leave liability" on their balance sheet. At her employer apparently you can cash out the leave instead of taking time off. So that is a real liability. My employer allows only allows it in cases of "financial hardship". There is an "annual leave loading" of 17.5% extra pay for the vacation days. The surplus is paid out on termination. But if you do take leave now, it is paid out now and elementary economics say that the employer should want to get it paid out later rather than earlier! It's the employee who is missing out on getting the money earlier. That said, I should take more leave earlier :)

1 comment:

Jim said...

Its because it usually gets bigger over time as salaries increase. Imagine an employee who never took leave and yet every year got a promotion to a higher paying role. That leave they earned at the beginning would now be paid out at the much higher rate than it was earned at. So there is an accounting P&L expense and a higher cash outflow.

Also, its a current liability on the balance sheet because you can take it at any time, so makes the organisations working capital look bad.