News & Views

Employees losing out on holiday entitlement

BY Richard Woods
Employment law
BG Purple

According to the recent UK Annual Leave Survey only 50% of workers in the UK take all of their annual leave with the average employee taking only 77% of their full entitlement. 

Under the Working Time Regulations 1998 workers are entitled to 5.6 weeks or 28 days annual leave but this research suggests that workers are sacrificing 6 days of holiday in favour of staying in the office. The research further shows that almost half (44%) of all workers carry out work whilst they are on leave with this figure rising to 57% for Scottish workers but falling to 25% for Welsh workers.  

The advance of technology from mobile telecommunication to smart phones and the increased opportunity for remote access provided by greater internet connectivity worldwide makes workers contactable at any time, at any location. It appears that employers are taking advantage of this with 18% reporting that they had been contacted by a colleague in relation to work whilst on holiday and 13% being contacted directly by their manager.  

These results are not only concerning for employees but could also open employers up to risk. The ECJ has long held that the purpose of paid annual leave is “to enable the worker to rest and to enjoy a period of relaxation and leisure.” The fact that some employees are being contacted by colleagues or managers whilst on holiday is clearly contradictory to this. Not only could this sour employee relations, but it could lead to overwork, stress and, in the worst case scenario, a constructive dismissal claim. This survey certainly gives employers food for thought and the message from employee groups is that all employees should be encouraged to take their full annual leave entitlement and to leave work behind them when they do take holiday.

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