Accrued annual leave can be a balance sheet nightmare for any big employer. It’s been something that Fairfax management has been waging war on for some time, for it seems there are many journalist employees at Fairfax titles who are loathe to take their annual allocation of days off … perhaps because they worry that while they’re away someone will change the locks?

Whatever, it now seems that at least at The Age, management is getting on the front foot, now not only insisting that various staff take great swathes of long-accumulated leave, but also demanding that henceforth they plan their annual leave dates a year in advance. So forward thinking. Here is the latest missive from Age editor Paul Ramadge, clearly a firm believer in the many advantages of rigorous long-term planning:

From: Paul RAMADGE
Sent: Tuesday, 19 May 2009 10:09 AM
To: Age Editorial-DL
Subject: Annual leave


Thank you to all staff who have responded to our requests to reduce accrued annual leave.

The leave taken or booked up to June 30 has been significant.

The next step is to improve the management of annual leave so that we don’t have such high accruals.

Some staff take most or all of their entitlement each year. Others, until pushed, take none.

To improve this system and to make it fairer, a new way of managing leave begins next week.

The key points are:

1. All staff to apply for leave in May and June for 33 days’ leave to be taken in the 2009/10 year.

2. Staff who have not applied by the middle of June will get a reminder.

3. Senior editors to review the requests, discuss any issues with staff then alter the leave accordingly.

4. Changes to bookings can be made at any time after discussions with senior editors.

I think everyone accepts the basic principle involved here — it is important for staff to take annual leave, for work/life balance, family and good health.

Please keep these things in mind as we introduce this new system.

It is to everyone’s benefit.

Paul Ramadge