By BREE PRICE firstname.lastname@example.org
SOUTH LISMORE butchers Neil Hutley and his son Graham can't remember the last time either one of them had a holiday, but they're not the only ones.
The owners of Hutley Bros Butchery are among a large number of Australian workers who haven't taken a holiday in years.
A national study by market research company Global Market Insite has found that about 22 per cent of Australian workers take less than half their annual holiday leave.
And in an ironic twist for a region famous as a holiday destination, Lismore Unlimited Opportunities manager Amber Hall said skipping holidays was a particularly strong trend among small businesses and high-level managers on the Northern Rivers.
However, she said holidays were vital.
"People need to get away from work. It's important to have balance in your life," she said.
"If you don't, you burn out.
"Find people (staff) who can plan ahead and take them away from their work. Owners can then come back to their business with fresh eyes which helps take the business forward."
Neil Hutley reckons his last holiday was about 20 years ago. The 80-year-old works at least 60 hours and seven days a week, and a knee replacement several years ago didn't stop him.
And his son Graham, 55, had to really think to remember the last time he was away for more than a day.
They both said it was difficult to find someone to take their place at the butchery.
"We're so versatile in what we do. We're not just a straight butchery, we also specialise in small goods production," Graham said.
"To get someone to do that kind of work exactly the way it's got to be done -? it's impossible. A lot of our small goods recipes are old, original recipes. They've got to be done exactly to the recipe or it doesn't work."
Ms Hall said a lot of small business owners didn't have the resources to take even a week off.
"It's human resources, staff that can make decisions the business owner would otherwise make," Ms Hall said.
"Resources typically start with staff, and good staff cost money. Also, if high-level managers and business owners who carry a lot of responsibility take a week off, they return to find 500 emails and 200 phone messages waiting for them.
"First week back is playing catch-up. It's very stressful.
"Go away for four weeks -? do the maths. It's too stressful."
Jane Boardman has owned Shaw Bay Takeaway at Ballina with her husband for almost four years.
The mother-of-two works an 80-hour week and said she wouldn't be able to take a holiday unless they sold the shop.
"We haven't had a decent holiday in four years. We had a weekend off for a wedding in April," Mrs Boardman said.
"I feel like it's my home I'm here so often.
"As business owners you get the impression no-one ever does it as good as you.
"And it's the type of business you can't do for too long. You have (staff) changes and people move on.
"You spend years getting to know them and they get to know the shop, but it's the type of job where people don't stay long."
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HOLIDAY? WHAT HOLIDAY? Butchers Graham Hutley, left, and his father Neil haven't had a holiday for over 20 years. The South Lismore men are among 22 per cent of Aussies who have taken to work over play. Picture: WARREN CROSER