Annual Leave and ILO Conventions

Employees and Employers need to know how much annual leave you can take from work in Australia. Learn all about Holiday pay entitlement, Employment leave policy in Australia

What is paid annual leave/holidays?

Paid annual leave is the period of time, during a year, when workers can take time off from their work while still receiving income and other benefits. The paid annual leave is in addition to public holidays, sick leave, casual leave and maternity/paternity leave.


What is the purpose of paid annual holidays?

The paid annual holidays serve two main purposes. First, these allow workers rest and recreation opportunities. Second, these help workers spend some quality time with their families, which ultimately promote work-life balance. These annual holidays also make workers healthy and thus reduce absenteeism and other health related costs.


What does the ILO say about paid annual leave?

ILO has adopted a couple of conventions on the subject however the most relevant and updated convention is Convention 132, which entitles every worker with one year of service to at least 3 weeks paid annual leave. A worker with a lesser length of service is entitled to reduced paid annual leave that is proportionate to his length of service during that tenure. For example, if a country provides three weeks paid annual leave for one year of service, a worker with 8 months of service should be eligible for at least 2 weeks paid leave.


What is the minimum qualifying period described in ILO Conventions?

Countries can require a minimum period of service for entitlement to annual holidays with pay. This qualifying period has to be determined by a competent authority in a country however this period should not exceed 6 months. Moreover, if a person has been absent from work due to reasons beyond his control like illness, injury or maternity; this period will be considered part of his service.


Does ILO require annual holidays with pay?

Yes, ILO convention requires that a worker on annual holidays be paid at least his normal/average remuneration for the full period of his holidays.

Can workers take paid annual leave in parts?

Yes, the ILO convention says that a competent authority in a country may authorize taking annual leave in parts. However, one of these parts should consist of at least 2 uninterrupted working weeks. Annual leave can also be accumulated however this must be taken within 18 months of entitlement.


Who decides the timing of paid annual leave?

Unless fixed by a regulation or collective agreement, time to take paid annual leave is determined by an employer after consultation with employees and their representatives. This should take into account work requirements (by an employer) and rest & recreation opportunities available to a worker.


Can a worker receive compensation for these holidays instead of taking them?

According to ILO, an agreement to relinquish minimum holidays with pay or to forgo such a holiday (for compensation) will be null and void. However, if a worker who has completed minimum qualifying period and is entitled to paid annual leave is terminated, he shall receive a holiday proportionate to the length of his service or due compensation, if he did not avail these holidays during his tenure.

A worker, on paid annual leave, can’t engage in a gainful activity in these holidays.


Are public holidays, occurring during paid annual leave, part of it?

Public and customary holidays, whether they fall during paid annual leave, are not counted as part of paid annual leave. Similarly, periods of incapacity resulting from sickness or injury are not counted as part of paid annual leave.


Should a worker be given advance pay for paid annual leave?

According to ILO, a worker taking annual leave should receive at least his normal wages for the period of annual leave before its start.


What are international provisions for paid annual leave?

Paid annual holidays, when compared internationally, range between 10-15 to 24-26 days of leave. The most extensive leave entitlements are usually found in Europe while Asian countries are on the lower side of the range.

Minimum paid annual leave entitlements don’t usually apply to all workers as workers hired for shorter periods may be excluded from these entitlements. Labor laws usually require that workers must have completed a qualifying period of 6 months or 1 year.

In some countries, paid annual leave also increases with seniority. Workers with longer work experience have longer annual leave entitlements. The table below provides information on annual leave entitlements in the “Labor Rights for Women” countries.



Annual Leave Provisions

Qualifying Period


21 days per annum, additional entitlements for long service or arduous or remote work.


6 months in service of an employer


At least 15 days per annum

At least 150 days in the service of an employer


12 days for every 240 days worked


At least 240 days or more in the service of an employer


12 days per annum

12 months in service of an employer



At least 21 working days

12 months in service of an employer


  1. 12 days during first year of service
  2. 24 days during second year of service
  3. 30 days during for third year of service and onwards

12 months in service of an employer


14 days inclusive of weekly rest days

12 months in service of an employer


  1. 12 consecutive days for less than 5 years of service
  2. 18 consecutive days after 5 but less than 10 years of service
  3. 30 days after 10 years of continuous service

12 months in service of an employer


3o days per annum

12 months in service of an employer

South Africa

21 consecutive days

One annual leave cycle i.e. 12 months in service of an employer  

Source: ILO Database on Conditions of Work and Employment Laws. ILO, Geneva


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