Growing Number of Professionals failing to use up Annual Leave Entitlement

Posted on 28 December, 2014 by Kirsten Kennedy

Christmas is over and many of us will be turning our thoughts back to the office after a relaxing break over the festive period. However, for some, Christmas will not necessarily have brought with it a break from work with a new survey revealing a startling number of employees in the UK fail to use up their annual leave entitlement.

woman at her desk with her keyboard lock up in chains

According to a poll taken by Robert Walters recruitment group, 40 per cent of white collar workers in the UK will fail to use all of their annual holiday allowance by the time the bells toll at New Year. Of this number one in five blame their work load and the increasing pressure to meet deadlines for the need to remain tied to their desks, with one in five also claiming their requests for time off earlier in the year were refused as a result.

Yet more worryingly, six per cent of respondents hinted that stress played a role in their failure to take their entitled annual leave as they were afraid of falling behind on their days off. This was echoed by the 4 per cent who believed using up their full holiday entitlement would cause their boss to pass them over for promotion or a pay rise.

Head of public policy at human resources organisation CIPD, Ben Willmott, believes this trend could have an extremely damaging impact upon the mental health of the nation’s employees.

He says; “Managers need to lead by example and make sure they take all their holiday otherwise it can become part of the organisational culture where taking time off is seen as wrong.

“We know long term pressure and stress is a cause of major illnesses and if staff feel they cannot take leave then it can end up making them ill, forcing even more time out of the office.”

Mr Willmott’s comments are especially pertinent as, earlier this year, finance watchdogs warned about the dangers to businesses should workers in leading roles remain at work whilst experiencing burnout.

In fact, the Financial Services Authority recommended that all staff members across all industries should be made to spend a minimum of two weeks away from their desks each year following the “rogue trader” scandal during which Jerome Kerviel caused a £3 billion loss at Societe Generale.

In the UK, the poll of 755 professionals found that those in the financial services sector are most likely to remain plugged in to the office, with only 38 per cent of workers questioned intending to use up all of their annual leave this year. HR staff, marketing and sales personnel and accountancy workers followed closely behind, with 58 per cent, 60 per cent and 61 per cent of respondents fully utilising their holiday allowance.

Chartered Management Institute chief executive Ann Francke believes striking the balance between work and play can be tricky, saying; “Nobody can perform at their best without proper breaks and that means making time to switch off and recharge the batteries.

“The key is to work smarter, not harder, but that’s easier said than done.”

Did you use up all of your entitled annual leave this year and, if not, why?

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