Do employees need to use their full holiday entitlement?

By March 12, 2019Advice, Holidays

Employees are failing to make the most of their holiday allowance, with 44% failing to use all of theirs last year according to a new report.


Apparently almost a quarter (23%) of UK workers ended the year with more than five days’ holiday not taken, meaning they worked an extra week for free.


When it came to why employees aren’t using all their holiday, fears of falling behind or risking disapproval featured heavily:


  • Too busy at work (38%)

  • Had nowhere to go (23%)

  • Don’t need that much holiday (19%)

  • Enjoy work too much (8%)

  • Boss doesn’t approve (8%)

  • Colleagues would feel that they weren’t contributing (5%)

Why do employees need holidays?

It’s easy to think that employers should be pleased that their employees are always at work and never take holidays. However, this shouldn’t be the case. Taking too few holidays can lead to problems:


Burnout – People become tired and jaded over time, despite their best intentions. Everyone needs to take some time off to recharge. A tired workforce will lead to slower productivity, lower quality of work, and a negative attitude that damages employee engagement.


Sickness absence – Working too many hours for too long can make employees ill. Not being able to take time off can lead to stress, resulting in short or long term sickness.


Increased staff turnover – Staff who are burned out or unable to take holidays without feeling like they’re being judged will eventually leave. The consequences of this will be the cost of recruitment coupled with the loss of expertise from people who know how to do the job well.


What can employers do?

It’s important that holiday leave is managed and monitored, and there should be a culture that encourages employees to plan and take their holiday entitlement. Managers should be trained to monitor holidays and to recognise signs of stress in employees.


The terms and conditions of employment should communicate clearly that employees are expected to take their holidays within the year.


If you have concerns in respect of health and safety, you should consider whether there is a risk to the employee or others, for example if they are operating heavy machinery without taking appropriate rest periods. If so, you will have to insist that appropriate holiday be taken or disciplinary action may be considered.


Can unused holiday be carried forward to the next holiday year?

There is no obligation to do so, but employers can determine how flexible they are about forwarding holidays permitting some flexibility (for example, no more than three days can be carried forward).


Employers cannot demand that employees carry forward any part of their statutory holiday, and must ensure that the statutory element of any entitlement, i.e. 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday, is taken in each leave year..


Note: – Employees are entitled to carry over the four weeks provided under the Working Time Directive (EU legislation) in the case of sickness. This is separate from the additional 1.6 weeks that the Working Time Regulations give employees under UK law, which makes the UK statutory entitlement 5.6 weeks.


Sick leave and holiday

Employees are entitled to accrue their four-week entitlement to paid annual leave under the Working Time Directive while they are off work sick (no matter how long they’re off). Any of this holiday entitlement that is not used because of illness can be carried over into the next leave year.


An employee can ask to take their paid holiday for the time they’re off work sick; for example, this might be useful if they do not qualify for sick pay. Any rules relating to sick leave will still apply. It’s important to note that employers cannot force employees to take annual leave when they’re eligible for sick leave.


More information

If you’d like advice on holiday entitlement and managing staff holidays, call a Deminos advisor on 020 7870 1090.

Author David Ralph

More posts by David Ralph

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