Employers ‘Should Encourage Workers To Take Advantage Of Annual Leave’

Lawyers Reiterate Holiday Benefits As Research Reveals People Are Giving Up Days Off


Employers should not ignore the importance of ensuring their workers are taking annual leave that they are entitled to, according to specialist lawyers reacting to new research showing the number of people choosing to give up some of their days off.

According to the study by Avios, a quarter of workers expect to not take at least one day of their holiday allowance this year, whilst one in seven also state they may give up three days or more of their entitlement.

It was also revealed that workers in London were among the most likely to not use holiday and even cancel breaks after booking, while the main reasons given for not taking holiday include feeling guilty and money.

Following the release of the research, specialist employment lawyers at Irwin Mitchell have urged employers to not ignore the important role that leave plays in ensuring a workforce remains happy, productive and motivated.

Expert Opinion
“The general rule on annual leave is that full time staff are entitled to at least 28 days holiday per year, with this being pro-rated for part time staff.

“Put simply, the entitlement to paid holiday is a health and safety initiative in place to make sure that workers take a break from their duties and have a period of relaxation and leisure. All employers have a duty to provide a safe place of work for their employees.

“As a minimum, we would advise that employers make sure that their workforce takes at least 20 days of holiday per year, with a maximum carry-over of five days. Interestingly, the principles of the International Labour Organisation – which are not binding on the UK – even go so far as to suggest workers should take one uninterrupted block of two weeks leave to maximise the benefits of taking holiday, and in some industries this is required as part of a worker’s contractual obligations.

“Employers can approach the issue of leave in several ways – it is not uncommon for some to allow their staff to carry over a few days into the next leave year, but many also do operate a strict ‘use it or lose it’ policy.

“Ultimately, it is safe to say that a workforce that takes appropriate holiday is likely to be more productive and motivated, and it lessens the risk of people suffering an injury or absence if they have a break from the workplace. From a legal perspective, it is also wise for employers to bear in mind that case law suggests courts generally look dimly at any steps taken by employers to discourage staff from taking leave.

“A specific case in point would be the ongoing case of Lock v British Gas Trading Ltd, which revolves around a salesman arguing he is disincentivised to take leave as he would not earn commission whilst taking that leave. He is seeking outstanding holiday pay on the basis that the basic amount paid did not also reflect what he earned in commission – meaning he would miss out if taking holiday.

“The ruling that employers would consider commission when calculating holiday is now being appealed.”
Glenn Hayes, Partner