‘Singletons’ lose out to parents over Christmas leave

‘Singletons’ like Bridget Jones could be refused holiday this Christmas as a new survey finds that more than four in 10 employers give priority to those with children or dependants when granting annual leave requests over the festive period.

This figure jumps to more than half (52 per cent) in small firms that favour family ties over festive fun when handing out holiday leave, according to a new survey of businesses across the UK by HR consultants Croner.

The research also reveals that those without family commitments could be better off working for larger companies. Nearly two-thirds (68 per cent) grant Christmas holiday depending on business needs, rather than family status.

Richard Smith, HR expert at Croner, part of Wolters Kluwer UK, said that when it comes to Christmas holidays, everyone should be treated equally to avoid discrimination and conflict in the workplace.

“There is a growing ‘Bridget Jones generation’ of younger people who are choosing to develop their professional careers before getting married and having children, and employers are telling us they are finding it hard to dish out holidays without upsetting singletons,” he said.

“We advise our clients that, whether an employee wants to spend Christmas with their children, or partying with friends, neither should be given preference when granting holiday requests.

“However, treating all employees equally does not mean disregarding personal circumstances altogether, but recognising that that the holiday needs of a singleton whose family may be geographically distant could be as great as a working parent who lives locally.”

Smith also said that employees should not expect to be given carte blanche over when they can take their holidays, either.

“Employers are well within their rights to refuse holiday requests if there is a genuine business reason,” he said.

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