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Companies making it hard for workers to take holiday

Companies are putting their employees at risk of burnout by making it difficult or impossible to take annual leave, according to research by Just Eat for Business.

More than one third (37%) of office workers said they will not be able to take annual leave between now (September 2022) and Christmas, as staffing shortages lead their managers to deny leave requests. 

Employee difficulties in getting time off are not just seasonal, according to the research, with the majority (60%) of office workers saying their workplace makes it uncomfortable or impossible to take time off at any time of year. 

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Denying holidays or breaks will result in a notable drop in productivity and efficiency and risk burnout, said Rosie Hyam, people partner at Just Eat.

She told HR magazine: “It can also set a precedent for the future, whereby an employer may feel justified in overworking employees, or expecting them to put in long hours without a break.”

Any extended period of time without a break, she added, could leave organisations worse off when employees need extended periods of time off to decompress.

Kate Palmer, HR advice and consultancy director at HR consultancy Peninsula, agreed, adding that companies must find a way around the difficulties of staff shortages.

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: "Businesses should be looking at ways to fill the gaps, to ensure staff still have reasonable paid breaks from work.

“Where no alternative arrangements can be made, employers may have to consider allowing accrued but unused leave to be rolled into next year. In the meantime, they may want to implement incentives to keep teams motivated and engaged, such as early finishes, in-office treats or enhanced overtime rates.”

Just Eat for Business’ research surveyed more than 2,000 staff across 200 organisations.