A new analysis from the Trades Union Congress finds that one in 12 employees in the UK are not receiving the full amount of annual paid leave to which they are entitled by law, while 1.2 million are not getting any paid leave at all. Adam McCulloch highlights the repot at Personnel Today:
Agriculture (14.9%) was the sector where the highest proportion of workers was likely to miss out and retail was where the highest number of staff were losing out (348,000 people). … Employees are entitled to 28 days’ annual leave (pro rata) including public holidays but, according to the unions body, unrealistic workloads, managers failing to agree time off and a failure by businesses to keep up with the law was behind the high numbers losing out.
The TUC is urging HMRC to be given powers to clamp down on employers who deny staff their statutory holiday entitlement. This would include the power to ensure that workers are fully compensated for missed holidays.
The TUC report comes just a few months after a Glassdoor survey came out showing that only 43 percent of UK employees were using more than 90 percent of their holiday entitlement, while another 40 percent were using less than half of it. The TUC analysis was based on unpublished data from the Labour Force Survey conducted by the UK’s Office of National Statistics; Glassdoor’s figures came from a 2,000-person online survey carried out in April.
Whereas the Glassdoor survey focused on whether employees were using their leave entitlement, the TUC is more concerned with whether some employers are denying their workers the right to use it. “Employers have no excuse for robbing staff of their well-earned leave. UK workers put in billions of hours of unpaid overtime as it is, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said. “The government must toughen up enforcement to stop bosses cheating staff out of their leave.“
Not taking vacations can cause work-related stress and burnout, damaging productivity and leading to a range of physical and mental health problems. Stress and mental health issues have been reported as serious problems in the UK workforce in several studies over the past few years. UK employees report high levels of overwork and overload, which are likely compounded when they do not take adequate time off each year. Even when employees take holidays, they might not really be disconnecting from work: the Glassdoor survey found that many British workers continued to check their work email and conduct other business while on leave, while 20 percent said they were expected to be reachable and available to carry out some work.
In the US, employees have no statutory right to paid leave, but many employers offer it voluntarily as a benefit. However, a survey last year found that even as American workers were receiving more paid days off from their employers, more than half were leaving at least some of these days on the table each year, often out of fear of missing out on career opportunities or being perceived by their managers as replaceable or less dedicated to their work. Although the vast majority of managers indicated that they understood the value of time off to employee wellbeing and productivity, 66 percent of employees responding to that survey said they felt their company’s culture was ambivalent, discouraging, or sent mixed messages about time off.