What Have You Been Doing With All Your Unused Annual Leave?

Ketut Subiyanto/Pexels
Ketut Subiyanto/Pexels

Tell us, what have you been doing – or perhaps, what do you plan to do – with all your unused annual leave this year? With the year drawing to a close, and leisure travel still far out of the question, many of us are probably at wit’s end on how to proceed.

And thus, the golden question: Should we force ourselves to take them all this year or forego the much-needed rest, and bring them over to the next year?

Should one go without a break for such a long time?

According to medical experts, working non-stop without a break could very well take a toll on one’s mental and physical well-being. Indeed, work burnout is real, and can affect any individual of any age. 

With many working from home for most part of the year, the impetus to take a break and get away from it all tends to be missing. After all, home is one’s sanctuary away from work, and working from home kind of already feels like a break from the workplace. But with kids at home and multiple distractions abound, can that really be considered as a break?

In addition, not forcing yourself to take a break can end up having a negative effect on one’s mental health, ability to focus, energy levels, and creativity – just to name a few! On top of all that, overworking could cause one’s stress levels to go through the roof, impounded by burgeoning health problems. 

How does this affect companies as well?


If one employee brings over most of his unused leave to the following year, that wouldn’t have much impact on a company. However, multiply that by 20, or even by 1,000 for larger corporations, and we’ve got a big problem on our hands.

Indeed, allowing too many employees to bring forward their leave might cause workflow problems in the coming year. Those relegated to covering the duties of their colleagues on leave will also face higher stress levels, affecting productivity as a whole.

This also proves tricky for companies’ finances, as these unused leave days would be recorded as financial liabilities. 

What are some options?

Don’t despair, there’s light at the end of every tunnel! Here are some alternatives as a way out of this predicament:

Donate your leave

Nanyang Technological University has devised an ingenious initiative, where employees can choose to donate their leave days to raise money for student aid. Needless to say, this doesn’t solve the problem of burn-out, but at least you know your leave will be going towards a good cause!

As of November, more than 20,000 days of unused leave have been voluntarily donated. This translates to a net worth of around $10.25 million. The average number of days donated was 11, with the highest being 15. 

Encash your leave

This depends on companies, but some might allow you to encash a part of your leave. For example, OCBC is allowing their employees to carry forward additional days of leave to the coming year, or encash up to five days of their annual leave. Employees on the OCBC Flex Plan can also use three days worth of their leave as credits to reimburse medical expenses, and more.

Take the chance to explore Singapore

Who says a holiday can only be taken overseas? After all, there’s probably so much to see and do in Singapore that you never even knew existed! Plus, with the $100 SingapoRediscovers vouchers given to every Singaporean for use between 1 December 2020 to end June 2021, there’s really no better time to do so.

Hay Diaries Pure Goat Milk/Facebook

Take a day off to venture to Kranji’s cluster of farms – feed goats at Hay Diaries, visit the Jurong Frog Farm, and have a delicious farm-to-table meal at Bollywood Veggies.

Have a kayaking adventure among the mangroves of Pulau Ubin, go glamping or go-karting at Changi Airport, get back to nature at Tampines Eco Green, or – if you’re adventurous! – even embark on the 36-kilometre Coast-to-Coast trail that stretches from Jurong Lake Gardens in the West to Coney Island Park in the North-east.

In fact, you can even make an entire ‘Singapo-liday’ out of it, and take a block of leave to explore all of the island’s hidden gems. 

Like they all say, life’s too short to not stop and smell the roses. So why not take the chance to take a break, and bring the entire family out for a holiday within our shores? It’s a win-win, really!




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