Failing to take full holiday leave – The implications for employees and employers alike

Posted by Thomas Sutherland

Employment & HR - Morecrofts

Mon 03rd, Aug

Whilst driving to work yesterday, I heard a shocking statistic – that 1 in 5 employees in the North-West don’t take their full annual holiday leave entitlement. 

Let’s be completely clear on the above statistic. Holiday leave doesn’t necessarily mean a trip away from home in the traditional sense of ‘holiday’, but rather days off in general (i.e. for a wedding, relative’s birthday or purely for a lovely extended weekend).

Some people may even choose to take a week or two off just to relax at home and spend time with the kids, catch up with local friends and family or even (gulp!) catch up with the housework! Even with my adventuring hat on, I must admit the opportunity to avoid the rigmarole of airport security and simply put your feet up sounds pretty appealing.

Let’s be honest, everyone loves holidays. I certainly know I do. I only have to return from a trip to snowy Germany or sunny Barcelona to then have thoughts of planning another adventure. At the moment, the picturesque Christmas markets of Belgium and/or the stunning Northern Lights of Iceland are catching my eye and looking likely to destroy my piggy pig in the next six months. 

But putting my desire to explore the globe to one side, why is it so crucial that an employee takes all of their annual holiday leave? Well, the above statistic is particularly concerning due to annual leave being there to protect the health and safety of workers through the provision of well-needed rest from working time. Failure to do so may well be detrimental to an individual’s health in the long-term and lead to increased sickness absence in the future.

Because of this, an employer should encourage its workers to use all of their holiday leave, especially as the 28 days holiday leave provided for under working time legislation may not be carried over from year to year unless exceptional circumstances apply. Therefore, any worker who does not take all of their statutory annual holiday entitlement, may lose it during the next leave year (and not be paid for this).

To be clear, an employee is generally not entitled to be paid in lieu of any accrued, but untaken, holiday at the end of a holiday year.

Naturally, the above statistics are concerning for employees and employers alike due to both being affected by underuse of holiday leave. An employer will look to encourage full use of holiday leave in order to meet its legal obligations and have a well-rested, happy and healthy workforce. 

Should either an employee or employer outwardly refuse to act in a way that enables the full use of annual statutory holiday leave, legal advice should be sought by the relevant party from an employment law solicitor.

Hopefully, these statistics will reduce over time and more people can recharge their batteries. After all, the thought of a sunny/snowy adventure is a fitting motivation when being blown half backwards during the gloomy, rainy commutes into work…

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