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Saturday 18th March 2017

The importance of holidays

Holidays need to be just that – employers need to back off and let their staff take a break!

The benefits of taking holidays has always been known, that’s why so many employees insist that their staff take their full allowance every year.  But with the advances in technology ways to keep in touch are forever on the increase, and evidence in a recent poll shows that more and more employees are feeling obliged to work even whilst away. 

A Harris Poll of 2,000 UK employees conducted for jobs review site Glassdoor last year found that 44 per cent of participants working in London, and 51 per cent of all participants, admitted to doing some work while on holiday.

Of those employees who worked on holiday, 11 per cent said they were worried about getting behind on their workload; 10 per cent said were hoping for a pay rise; and 6 per cent were concerned they would lose their job. 

Employees may choose to work on holiday, and for executives and small company owners this may be essential for the smooth running of the business. But an employer expecting employees to work on holiday risks breaching a general duty to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the welfare at work of all its employees under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. And while some managers may encourage employees to be available on holiday, this mentality of always being ‘switched on’ to work could be contributing to the increase of stress-related illness among UK employees.

How can employers ensure that the work of their business continues to get done?  Well  organisations could have a policy which applied when they do approve holiday, setting out clear working expectations for employees while they are on leave. The policy could, for example, encourage:

·         full handovers prior to taking leave

·         only contacting the employee by phone or text for an urgent matter

·         sending out-of-office responses for those on leave, and directing emails to someone else in the office, where practical 

And most importantly managers need to lead by example and demonstrate that it is OK to take a holiday!

Information taken from People Management article written by Matthew Howse is a partner and head of employment, and Sarah Stock an associate, at Morgan Lewis & Bockius

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