Quarter of British workers swelter through summer without a break

Jul 28 2006 by Nic Paton Print This Article

Thousands of Britons may have headed off on holiday this week, but for nearly a quarter of workers there's no holiday in sight, new research has suggested, compounding Britain's reputation as an overworked nation with a poor work/life balance.

The research for consultancy Croner said, of those taking a holiday, more than half were very likely to have booked their time off well in advance.

Nearly a quarter did not anticipate any problems booking off time, even at short notice.

But 23 per cent said they did not even intend to take any time off this summer, with a minority of 3 per cent intending to ask but concerned they had left it too late for their boss to say yes.

But, said Croner, staff who failed to take their holiday entitlement was potentially placing their organisations at risk.

Overworking themselves into the ground could lead to much more serious health problems and, ironically, enforced time off work.

Croner's employment services director Richard Smith said: "The summer holidays is often a 'bottleneck' in terms of workers juggling commitments and booking their holidays at similar times to colleagues.

"But not taking a break at all is not a solution, and should alert the employer to monitor the situation," he added.

"Holiday policies need to be put in place to ensure that clashes don't arise, but also so that people know where they stand when it comes to getting time off.

"After all, a holiday allowance is an important part of any employee's benefits package, so working in an atmosphere where people don't feel able to use it could be a sign of deeper problems in the organisational culture or the policies currently in place.

"Our research was fairly evenly split across age, gender and social grade, which seems to indicate a wider trend of office culture rather than any specific factors affecting this situation," Smith continued.

"Managers need to look at the employees they are responsible for and think about what's best for the business. A healthy work/life balance will do the business much more good in the long term as employees will be rested, rewarded and raring to go. An employee spending a summer slaving away at their desk in the mistaken belief that the company can't cope without them could lead to much more serious health problems, such as stress," he concluded.

A similar survey by Croner last winter showed that a third of UK workers failed to take their full entitlement and of these, 7 per cent would lose their holiday altogether, not being able to claim either payment or "rollover" days into the following year.

It was estimated that over £14.5 billion worth of holidays were going unclaimed.

"Employers need to watch out for the employees who promise themselves an autumn or winter holiday that never happens," said Smith.

"The figures show that not everyone is able to achieve that and employees still fail to get a deserved break by the Christmas and New Year holidays too," he added.