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How to maximise your annual leave in 2021

By Ana Isabel Alonsagay

With most of us back in the workplace (or working from home), it can help to plan out your career goals, key dates, and special events for the year. This, of course, includes mapping out your holidays and ways to spend your annual leave

Though most of us get only 20 days of standard annual leave, experts have found a few easy hacks to double your holidays – and all it takes is proper planning.

We break down the ways to extend your days off for 2021, and why you should take annual leave, rather than simply “cashing it out”.

Australia Day weekend 

The Australia Day weekend falls on a Tuesday at the end of January. To maximise your leave, it’s recommended to take a day off on the Monday just before – followed by days off on the Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday that follow.

This grants you a generous nine-day weekend from the 23rd to the 31th of January (as shown in the table below). 

January 23 (Saturday)


January 24 (Sunday)


January 25 (Monday)

Annual leave

January 26 (Tuesday)

Australia Day

January 27 (Wednesday)

Annual leave

January 28 (Thursday)

Annual leave

January 29 (Friday)

Annual leave

January 30 (Saturday)


January 31 (Sunday)



Easter holiday

easter chocolate concept

Though Easter falls on a Sunday (April 4), you can stretch this out to a whopping 10-day weekend with proper scheduling.

Simply book four days off after Easter Monday and Sunday – and you’ll have yourself a relaxing start to the month. Those who live in Tasmania have the advantage of having Easter Tuesday off, which means they’ll only need to book three days of annual leave. 

April 2 (Friday)

Good Friday

April 3 (Saturday)


April 4 (Sunday)

Easter Sunday

April 5 (Monday)

Easter Monday

April 6 (Tuesday)

Annual leave (or Easter Tuesday for TAS)

April 7 (Wednesday)

Annual leave

April 8 (Thursday)

Annual leave

April 9 (Friday)

Annual leave

April 10 (Saturday)


April 11 (Sunday)



Anzac Day

To take further days off at the end of April, you can also strategically book your annual leave around Anzac Day. 

Since Anzac Day falls on a Sunday (25th), making Monday a public holiday, scheduling your days off for the rest of the week can leave you with a prolonged nine-day break. However, this only applies to those currently living in WA, Queensland, SA, the NT, or the ACT. 

Unfortunately, those living in NSW, Victoria, or Tasmania won’t have Monday as a public holiday – requiring them to book five (rather than four) days of annual leave.

April 24 (Saturday)


April 25 (Sunday)

Anzac Day

April 26 (Monday)

Public holiday (Anzac Day Observed)

April 27 (Tuesday)

Annual leave

April 28 (Wednesday)

Annual leave

April 29 (Thursday) 

Annual leave

April 30 (Friday)

Annual leave

May 1 (Saturday)


May 2 (Sunday)



Christmas and New Year 

christmas concept

Finally, we have Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and New Year’s Day – all of which fall on a weekend. This gives Australians additional public holidays following these dates (Monday and Tuesday after the Christmas/Boxing Day weekend; and Monday after the New Year’s Day weekend). 

Workers can book three days of annual leave between their Christmas holidays and New Year’s Day, stretching celebrations out to a 10-day break. 

December 25

Christmas Day

December 26

Boxing Day

December 27

Public holiday (Christmas Day Observed)

December 28

Public holiday (Boxing Day Observed)

December 29

Annual leave

December 30

Annual leave

December 31

Annual leave

January 1 (2022)

New Year’s Day

January 2 (2022)


January 3 (2022)

Public holiday (New Year’s Day Observed)


Other long weekends (no annual leave required!)

Of course, there are also public holidays to tide us over from May to the Christmas/New Year break in December.

As the Queen’s Birthday falls on a Monday in all states, all workers thus have an additional long weekend. In most of Australia, this occasion takes place on June 14th; while Western Australia celebrates the date on the 27th of September, and Queensland on the 4th of October. 

Those in Victoria get a bonus long weekend from the AFL Grand Final Friday holiday, taking place in either September or October (depending on when the football season starts). 

Annual leave: take a break, or “cash them out”? 

In 2016, a new clause in 122 workplace agreements gave employees the option of converting their accrued annual leave into cash (up to two weeks’ worth per year) – rather than using these days for some much-needed time off. Many have rightfully questioned this in an age of workplace burnout and mental health awareness, stating how work-life balance should remain a priority. 

With Australians working over an average of 1700 hours a year – 10% longer than workers in the UK and 20% more than those in Germany – the opportunity to rest, reset, and rejuvenate is crucial. In fact, overworking currently drives one in five Australians to take critical time off due to high stress, anxiety, depression and general mental burnout; stressing the need for workers to schedule regular, well-deserved breaks when they can. 

It’s not just employees who benefit from regular holidays – employers also reap the rewards of a more engaged, productive, and overall happier workplace. This, in turn, leads to higher business profitability, greater customer retention, and lower rates of turnover. 

Strengthen your mental health, drive, and professional skills this 2021!

Self-care and a healthy wellbeing should be at the forefront of your 2021 goals – but don’t let your professional growth fall by the wayside. 

With a new year comes new opportunities to build and expand on your current skills, paving the way for advanced roles or new career paths altogether.

Upskilled currently offers a wide range of courses across Australia’s thriving industries – from the digital skills of IT to the in-demand field of community services. All programs are delivered online, helping you tailor your training around personal needs and schedule.

Take the opportunity to advance both your personal and professional life this year, and upskill with us today!

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