Employees are cancelling their annual leave in 2020

More than a quarter of employees cancelled their annual leave in 2020.

This was discovered by BrightHR, a global HR software and employment law advice service who found that 28 per cent of BrightHR users cancelled their annual leave this year. The month with the highest amount of cancelled leave was April with 31,762 users withdrawing holiday requests and May with 25,083 requests cancelled. Both these months were during the UK’s full lockdown.

One aspect that feeds in to this situation is the constantly changing list of countries on the COVID-19 quarantine list.

Alan Price, CEO at BrightHR, said:

The significant amount of annual leave being cancelled around the UK should be troubling for employers. If employees decide to not to take any leave or take the majority of their leave in the final quarter of the year, there could be a real productivity crisis in autumn or winter.

While your employees’ holiday plans might be on hold, it’s still important for them to take time away from work. Annual leave gives your people downtime to refresh and recover, so you should encourage employees to take time out from work.

The onus is on employers to fully explain their annual leave process to staff, as well as the updated rules around annual leave carry-over, as set out by the government earlier this year. That information might help them to spread leave throughout this year and next, therefore ‘flattening the curve’ of cancelled annual leave being rebooked and ensuring productivity stays high for the remainder of 2020.

In August, Rita Trehan writing for HRreview explained the consequences that not taking holiday can lead to. Ms Trehan said:

Failing to take time away from work can be detrimental for several reasons. Without an opportunity to “switch off” or have down time, employees are far more likely to find themselves being less motivated and as a result, less positive about their work and themselves in general. However, the biggest risk is falling prey to burnout.

The Government has already reacted to this, as in March it announced that employees who have not taken the whole amount of their statutory annual leave entitlement this year will now be able to carry it over for the next two years due to COVID-19.

The Working Time (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 will amend the Working Time Regulations 1998 “to allow workers to carry over their holiday in to the next two leave years, where it is not reasonably practicable for them to take some, or all, of the holiday they are entitled to due to COVID-19,” according to Daniel Barnett, the employment law barrister.

These results were taken from the data of 300,000 BrighthHR users.

Darius is the editor of HRreview. He has previously worked as a finance reporter for the Daily Express. He studied his journalism masters at Press Association Training and graduated from the University of York with a degree in History.