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Millions of UK workers are too scared to take their annual leave

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Dave Fawbert
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Sad work man

What is work? Now, obviously in science, there are several definitions, such as “the work, W, done by a constant force of magnitude, F, on a point that moves a displacement, s in a straight line in the direction of the force is the product W=Fs”, but we all knew that right?

The other type of work is the one that we have to go to every day in order to earn enough coinage to feed ourselves, pay the rent and our travel costs, so that we can keep ourselves alive in order to work, and get ourselves to the place of work in order to work…

When you see it written down like that it looks tremendously depressing, which is why we invented holidays. Glorious holidays where you can either travel to far-flung lands or simply sit in front of the TV for three days straight bingeing on Netflix.

But, shockingly, new research from British Airways has shown that Brits are working so hard that we’re failing to take a holiday or use our allocated annual leave.

A study from the airline uncovered some worrying stats surrounding the stigma attached to using annual leave, showing that many of us hold off taking a break because we’re afraid of what others in the office will think. 

One-third of working Brits lost annual leave in 2017 for putting off using their allocated holiday time. In fact, not only have 52% of UK workers still got holiday time left over from last year but a staggering 22 million of us have lost some of it for good, averaging at four days wasted per person.

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Not only are a third of people afraid to take their annual leave, but 16% felt guilty for taking the holiday that they’ve rightfully accrued. In addition, 49% of people said they were ‘too busy’ to get away from the office. Even when we do manage to take a break, we can’t switch off properly: 56% of those polled admit that they spend a lot of their holiday thinking about work.

This isn’t the first time Brits have been pulled up our poor work-life balance. In London especially, staying late at the office is seen as a badge of honour. Whereas in Denmark this notion is frowned upon, with the average Dane working 33 hours a week and leaving at 4pm on the dot to be with their family or do leisure activities. I’ve always said the Danes were a good people, ever since Peter Schmeichel joined Man Utd.

What’s particularly worrying is that taking time to rest and enjoy other parts of our lives is essential for our mental well-being - which, in turn, actually helps with performance in the office. Not only has working more than eight hours a day been shown to increase stress, it also heightens the risk of heart disease. When we’re in a good place mentally (which is easier achieved when we’re rested) we are actually more productive, 12% more to be exact.

Most companies on average give their employees 28 days holiday a year, so MAKE SURE YOU USE THEM.

Oh, and if you really want to make the most of those precious days away from the coalface, here’s how to double your effective holiday by booking the right days off and using some cheeky tricks.

(Main image: iStock, body image: Alex Shutin)

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Dave Fawbert

ShortList.com acting editor Dave’s is famous for electropop, power ballads and urban snake wrangling. A lower division football enthusiast and long-suffering cricket fan, he is one of only 202 people followed on Twitter by Chas Hodges from Chas ‘n’ Dave. Follow Dave on Twitter like Chas: @davefawbert

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