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Your Workplace Holiday Guide

We’re all going on a summer holiday! Or, are we?!


A recent report claimed that one in 20 workers receive no paid holidays – despite it being a breach of employment rights. And, then there are those pesky problems like starting a new job. What about that trip to Malaga I’ve got booked in week two?


If your workplace fosters the kind of culture where time off equals inconvenience don’t be tempted to to opt out – find out why in this edition of Q & Angel.


  1. Why do we need to take time off work?


Taking real time out is not just essential for relaxing and unwinding, but as Simon Briault of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) told the BBC:


“In the long run, it will be beneficial for the employee and the employer alike … because it helps to reduce ill-health and absenteeism.”


That’s why the Working Time Directive was introduced.


  1. What’s the Working Time Directive?


The EU’s Working Time Directive states that employees should be taking a minimum of 20 days leave every year.

However the UK’s minimum entitlement increase from 20 days a year to 28 days in 2009.


  1. How does our holiday entitlement compare to our EU counterparts?


British workers get the least amount of holiday entitlement. While Spain offers 36 days in total. You can check out the Statista comparison chart here.


However, UK workers shouldn’t feel too hard done by the poor Americans have zero days paid annual leave as standard, and zero paid public holidays!


  1. So what happens when we start a new job?


Annual leave accrues as soon as you start a new job. If you’ve started part way through the leave year you’re entitled to part of the total days available depending on how much time is left. The government’s leave entitlement calculator can be found here.


  1. How do I know what I’m entitled to at my new company?


Details of holidays and holiday pay entitlement should be found in your written contract.


Or, if you don’t have one, in your written statement of employment particulars (which you must receive within 2 months of starting a new job).


  1. So, what if I’ve got a new job AND I’ve got a holiday booked?


Well, for one thing you don’t have to mention it until you know you’re the number one pick for the role.  You can discuss the nitty gritty – like holidays, flexible working or other benefits – once you’ve had a verbal offer.


Most employers will be accommodating and push back the start date, but if the need is urgent you may have to choose between your holiday and your career and put it down to bad timing.


  1. So, how much notice should I give when I want a holiday?


The Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) says notice:


“[M]ust be at least twice the amount of time you’re planning to take off.” They suggest making your holiday request in writing – so you have a record.


  1. Can my employer refuse my request for time off?


Yes. Your employer can refuse your holiday request, or change their mind.


If it’s a busy period and they need the staff or if they won’t be able to operate effectively without you they can ask you to work instead. But they should give you due notice.


  1. How much notice should an employer give if they cancel time off work?


This letter from a disgruntled employee, written to the Telegraph, shows what a dilemma some people find themselves in over holiday permission cancelled last minute:


“A few months ago I asked my boss if I could take annual leave over Christmas. He said no, but agreed I could have five days off at New Year. I’ve been really looking forward to spending time with my family and friends – but he’s just emailed asking if I would be able to cancel my New Year’s holiday and work instead, as we have a couple of big projects on. I feel really annoyed and can’t decide what to do. Should I say yes or no?”


On the one hand business needs say the boss is in the right, but it sounds like he or she hasn’t given the right amount of notice, which should be at least equal to the amount of time you’re taking off:


So, if you’re taking one week off, say, your employer must give you at least one week’s notice that you can’t take leave. Again the CAB has some info on this here.


  1. Any last thoughts?


If you’re keen on making a good impression – especially in a new role – you might be tempted to avoid taking time away from the workplace.


Indeed this YouGov survey suggests that around 31% of UK employees didn’t take their full holiday entitlement in 2014!


But, while not taking holidays might seem the sensible thing to do evidence shows you actually become less productive without proper breaks.


As we said, British workers put in some of the longest hours in the EU and stress levels here are soaring – 32.9 million working days are lost each year through work-related illness! – so it’s important to take the time off you’re entitled to when and if you can.


Now over to you:


We want to hear your thoughts on what you’ve read!


Are you worried about taking time off work? Want to ask about your particular issues around holidays? Got any burning questions we could put to future Q & Angel guests? As ever, we want to hear what you’ve got to say!


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