One in three UK staff fail to take full holiday entitlement

A third of UK workers will not take their full holiday entitlement in 2005, despite complaints of being overworked, according to research from Croner.

This could mean more than £14.5bn worth of unclaimed holidays going to waste this year, the HR consultancy said.

But despite this financial saving, employers could be the real losers as insufficient holiday means staff are left open to stress and other health problems, which can have a negative financial knock on effect for organisations, Croner warned.

The survey of 536 workers, carried out byYouGov, revealed that with only a few working days left in 2005, only one in five people whose holiday entitlement runs from January to December have taken their full allowance.

More than a quarter (26%) have seven or more days left, and a further 26% have between four and six days remaining.

Of the 33% who said they won’t be taking their full holiday entitlement this year, 7% will lose the holiday altogether, 21% expect to carry it over to next year, while 4% are opting for payment instead.

The survey results also indicate that many employers need to brush up on the legal aspects of annual leave, as the Working Time Regulations 1998 stipulate that all employees should have a minimum of four weeks’ paid leave.

Richard Smith, employment services director at Croner, said that poor planning and management of annual leave policies is to blame for the billions in holiday debt that UK employers owe their staff this year.

“It’s not surprising that many staff complain of feeling stressed and tired when they aren’t taking even the minimum end of their holiday allowance.

“We advise our clients that they have a health and safety duty to all staff under Working Time Regulations to ensure they take adequate rest and breaks – and that includes giving them the best opportunity to take their full four weeks’ statutory leave entitlement.

“Our survey has revealed a situation where the nation has a backlog of annual leave with not enough time to take it in. Many employers offer alternatives, such as carrying the holiday over, but this really should only happen when there is a genuine business need and should not be an everyday practice,” he added.

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