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60% of employees discouraged from taking leave by their employers

New research has found that 60% of employees have actively been discouraged from taking time off by their employers.

Just Eat for Business found 26% of office workers were unable to enjoy their annual leave as they were still contacted by their employer with requests to help cover absences and workloads. The survey also showed that, due to staff shortages and reduced resources, 22% of office workers could not go on their leave.

A further 44% of workers report experiencing work burnout. The factor that contributed most to employees’ stress is difficulty in balancing their work and personal life.

The survey included 200 workers across the UK from Just Eat for Business. 33% of this population felt stressed that they were unable to lead a healthy, balanced life as a result.

Annual leave is not an employee’s benefit but an employee’s right.

Claire Lassiter, a senior HR consultant from Pure Human Resources, said:

“Annual leave should never be seen as a perk. Everyone needs a break to maintain their health and wellbeing, and ultimately to maintain their performance levels at work. Some organisations mandate that a set amount of annual leave is taken within each quarter of the year to ensure that employees use leave on a regular basis: others need to limit how much can be taken during their peak periods.

“Restricting the amount of discretionary carry over at the end of the leave year and reminding employees on a regular basis to plan ahead and book time off can help ensure that people take time out throughout the year – for the benefit of the individual and the business alike.”

The Office for National Statistics has recently reported that the UK is experiencing a record high number of job vacancies, standing at 1.3 million roles. This number of open roles against the staff shortages seen in the workplace is confounding, and supports the employee’s right to take leave when they need to request it.

People partner at Just Eat, Rosie Hyam, commented on the importance of flexible working, saying:

“Given the emphasis on employee wellbeing and work-life balance over the last few years, it’s essential that employers are receptive to flexible working arrangements, and that they allow employees to take time away from work when needed. It doesn’t have to be a big break – organisations may want to carve out some time to ensure that employees can take a break and socialise with colleagues during the working week. This can be done through in-office lunches, socials or team bonding activities.”

All workers have a legal right to 5.6 weeks of annual leave, which is what the Working Time Regulations provides for each worker.  If someone works part-time hours, their entitlement to annual leave is provided pro rata in line with their part-time working arrangement.

In line with an organisation’s leave policy, managers have the right to reject leave requests. This could be to manage workload, or because too many people have already booked leave off, or for another business reason.  However, an employer cannot continue to refuse leave requests so that a worker is not able to take their leave in a normal leave year.