The Importance of Holidays
As we enter the holiday season, recent statistics have been provided by the Trade Unions Congress (TUC) which suggests that one in twelve workers do not take the time off that they should.
In the UK, full time workers are entitled to 28 days paid annual leave per year which can include bank holidays as part of their statutory holiday leave entitlement.
The TUC statistics show that 2.2 million workers take less than the minimum holiday entitlement each year. Whilst some workers may be reluctant to take their annual leave, there are a number of negative effects of failing to take holiday entitlement which can include high stress levels, an impact on mental and physical health and low morale.
Furthermore, there are important legal obligations on employers to make sure their workers take the holidays that they are entitled to. European case law has emphasised the obligations on employers to show that it enables workers to take their holiday entitlement, particularly through the provision of sufficient information reminding workers about their entitlement.
This includes specifically and transparently giving workers the opportunity to take their annual leave and encouraging workers, formally if necessary, to take their annual leave and informing them in good time that, if they don't take their entitlement, they may lose it at the end of the holiday year.
The burden of proof lies with the employer to show that they have encouraged workers to take their holidays. Employers could even take additional steps to identify workers who have not taken their holidays, and write to them in good time before the end of the holiday year to encourage them to take their holiday and to remind them that they may lose their entitlement if they do not take it.
The Government is also recognising the importance of holidays, the Review of Modern Day Working Practices (the Taylor Review) published in July 2017 set out a number of holiday pay reforms including launching a campaign to boost awareness of holiday and holiday pay rights amongst employers and individuals and changing the reference period for calculating an average week's pay from 12 weeks' to 52 weeks'. The government continues to build upon this review and a further strategy document was published in December 2018 which was described by the government as "the biggest package of workplace reforms for over 20 years", their strategy includes a continued focus on holidays and holiday pay.
As we enter the peak holiday season, now is a good time to remind staff of the importance and benefits of taking their holiday entitlement in the knowledge that relaxed and well rested workers are happier and more productive.
This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.