Easter is particularly sweet this year, with Anzac Day making three public holidays in one week. (ABC Canberra)
Two of the most solemn holidays in Australian life have combined to spark joy.
- The last time Easter and Anzac Day coincided was 2014 and it will not happen again until 2025
- Tourism operators are expecting a boom as millions of people take ten days off work
- Employers are concerned some staff will use sick days, not annual leave, to fill the gaps between the public holidays
The rare collision is a stretch including Good Friday, Easter Monday, Anzac Day and two weekends that have just three ‘business’ days scattered between.
“It’s like a second Christmas!” laughed Sydney-based Joshua Bone.
“It’s like that weird week between Christmas and New Year’s (Eve) where no-one knows what day it is and there’s a whole bunch of public holidays backed up. It’s kinda like that, but in April.”
He and girlfriend Emily Atkinson are making the most of it with a trip to Vietnam.
Both work in advertising sales at different companies, but Ms Atkinson has only been with her employer for a brief period.
“I think for me particularly it’s amazing,” she said.
“I have pretty much no annual leave clocked up so, to be able to take three days annual leave and get ten days off is amazing.”
Australia’s big break begins with Good Friday on April 19, the weekend and then Easter Monday, with Anzac Day on Thursday April 25. States and territories have different school holiday dates, with most dragging across the break. Some private schools have an extra week.
Anzac Day and Easter have not collided since 2014 and it will not happen again until 2025.
The dates of Easter are set by church hierarchy and it moves based on the Northern Hemisphere’s spring equinox and lunar phases, but differs between branches of the faith.
Tourism operators expecting ‘a lot of activity’
Tourism experts predict a travel bonanza as Australia essentially shuts down for a very special break.
“Having the Easter holiday and Anzac holiday combine so closely together will certainly see an increase in tourism activity,” said Adele Labine-Romain, tourism sector lead at consulting firm Deloitte Australia.
“It’s just too good to pass up being able to take three days of leave and having a ten-day holiday.”
China and Japan enjoy annually what Australia only receives when the calendar aligns the two holidays. They are called “golden weeks” and allow people to visit distant relatives domestically or overseas.
“There’s a bit of chaos I’ll admit,” Ms Labine-Romain said, “but it creates a lot of activity for their domestic tourism sectors.
“People go back to their hometowns, it creates a lot of overseas activity.”
A study by travel website Expedia of more than 11,000 people found Australian workers take less annual leave than their entitlements allow them, with the average using only 14 of 20 paid days available. One-in-six Australians failed to take a single day of leave in 2018.
But some are on top of it. Mr Bone said he discovered this year’s holiday bonanza almost a year ago.
“Probably like July, August last year I was going through my annual leave calendar for the year and checking out some key dates, and I saw how late Easter was and then pretty quickly clocked that was very close to Anzac Day,” he said.
“Yeah, straight onto [airfare aggregator] Skyscanner to check out you know if there are any cheap flight deals going on.”
Employers wary of possible $60m ‘sickness’ epidemic
Because the holiday creates ‘gaps’, in the same way the Monday before Melbourne Cup Day on a Tuesday is treated by many as a de facto day off in Victoria, business groups are warning about a hit to productivity.
“The bigger issue is like this year when Anzac Day falls on a Thursday, a lot of people are going to be tempted to take a sickie, and that’s what really hits productivity,” James Pearson, the chief executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), said.
“We know from experience that when there’s a public holiday on a Thursday, up to 200,000 people more take a sickie on the Friday in between, than normal.
“Now that’s a hit to Australia of around $60 million.”
Employees who take sick leave may have to provide a doctor’s certificate when they return to work. The chamber is urging people to do the right thing.
“Talk to your manager now, put in for leave now, so you don’t leave your colleagues in the lurch and you don’t let your customers down,” Mr Pearson said.
For people who are weighing up whether to take leave or not, Mr Bone has some advice.
“I think they should stay at work,” he said.
“Someone’s got to be at work. You snooze you lose, so enjoy working!”