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The importance of a holiday

21/09/2016

Did you know that a third of British workers didn’t take their full holiday allowance last year? That’s one in three people who, for whatever reason, didn’t allow themselves the legally recommended amount of time off and away from work to recharge!

As employees in the UK we are entitled to a minimum amount of paid holiday as a result of the Working Time Directive (currently coming from the EU). The purpose of this is for the well-being, both mental and physical, of workers because excessive hours worked has been shown to be a major cause of stress, depression and other illnesses.

Despite this, 33% of British workers didn’t feel that they could take their full allowance of annual leave last year because their workload was too heavy, while 13% didn’t feel able to take time off and 4% were worried about being judged by their company if they were to take their holiday. We published an article a while ago about the distorted perceptions of the UK work life balance between employees and HR, and these latest results seem to suggest that the problem has certainly not improved.

What this means though, is that workers aren’t getting the break that they need and therefore our reluctance as a nation to take holiday is leading to a rise in short-term absences and the dreaded ‘sickie’. Almost half of UK took a (genuine) day off through sickness over the last year, with 5% admitting to pulling a sickie… that is five in every hundred people who owned up to taking a false day off – how many people do you think didn’t admit to it? How much time and money do you think that is lost to companies across the country?

Clearly, managing short-term absence of all sorts is a real challenge for UK businesses, and managers need to focus on interventions as required to try and support their staff with a healthy work/life balance. They should be encouraging holiday usage, ensuring that staff feel able to take their entitled leave without fear of repercussion and what they may return to. Hopefully a better rested workforce will be an overall healthier one, and this will help to reduce the number of days off sick that are required.

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