The 17 Percent Loading

I leave for the United States in just a few hours. Today I will fly nearly 13 hours from Brisbane to Los Angeles, and then leave for Chicago three hours later. This 12-day trip is work-related, although I’ll get to see some friends in Atlanta next week, and my brothers and their families this weekend.

I attended a staff induction (orientation) this week at UQ--three months late-- and learned that one of my benefits (in fact, for all UQ employees) is four weeks personal leave each year, which can accumulate up to 20 weeks, plus a “17.25% loading.” I later learned that this loading is a 17.25% increase in pay whenever I’m on leave. Yes, I get paid more not to work! This is apparently a common thing in Australia, although no one seems to know its origin.

The price of an airline ticket between L.A. and Australia is nearly double what it was in 1996, so maybe the “loading” is meant to help with airfares when Aussies go on their holidays. It makes you wonder what will happen here when the “cheap” oil runs out. By then we’ll have more alternatives for cars, heating, etc. But, as far as I know, there are still no alternatives for jet fuel. Maybe Aussies will have to resume long sea voyages to see their families “back home.”