The UK holiday entitlement for full time workers is 28 days.
We are a lot more generous than USA, where the average annual paid holidays are a miserly 10 days, but we languish behind most European countries, where the average leave and public holiday entitlement is 33 days.
Many employers both big and small choose to offer more than the statutory number of days, but more worryingly, according to a recent YouGov survey, nearly a third of employees didn’t actually take their total allowance last year.
A rather unhealthy post-recession guilt culture seems to have been emerging, where workers are compelled to work longer hours, navigate heavier workloads and meet tighter deadlines. Yet, this has to be a false economy as excessive hours, coupled with insufficient breaks and holidays, is widely accepted as having a negative effect on job performance, increasing the risk of fatigue-related accidents and reputation-damaging mistakes, contributing to higher levels of stress-related illness and work absence.
So what can small businesses do to meet their legal and moral obligations regarding holidays, whilst remaining competitive and efficient?
Good planning and good communications are central to establishing a culture that recognises the importance of taking holidays:
1. Promote health and well-being at work by stressing the importance of taking holiday entitlements.
2. Make sure all employees know and understand how to book their leave.
3. Encourage employees to plan ahead before making holiday arrangements, particularly at peak times, so that requests can be scheduled and work fairly distributed.
4. Respect employee’s leave and don’t expect them to stay ‘connected’ to work while they are away.
5. Monitor holiday bookings and try and find out the reasons why leave isn’t being taken.
6. Discourage people from stockpiling their holidays and carrying untaken days forward into another year.
7. Lead by example and make sure employees see their managers taking holiday too!
Taking time out, for both you and your staff, is vital for the well-being and health of individuals as well as the overall business.
If you have any holiday scheduling tips, please share them in the comments box below!