Acas highlights scale of untaken annual leave

Employees have taken significantly less time off in the last year than before Covid, with more people working in SMEs taking less time off than normal.

Annual Leave


Thirty-nine per cent of British employees have taken less paid time off work during the pandemic compared to before it started, according to Acas research.

A YouGov poll for Acas also found that this number was higher in smaller and medium sized businesses, ie those with less than 249 employees with 44 per cent taking less time off compared to 35 per cent in larger organisations.

Acas advice is that it is important for people to take time off to get rest, to keep both physically and mentally healthy and to use their holiday entitlement within their current leave year where they can.

It says many people have taken advantage of a new law introduced last year, which allows them to carry over up to four weeks of statutory paid leave that they have not been able to take due to Covid into this year and next.

Susan Clews, Acas Chief Executive, said: “Acas advice is for employees to agree any holiday plans with their managers and keep them updated on any new Covid developments that could impact work such as travel quarantine or being asked to self-isolate.”

Acas advice on taking paid time off includes:

  • Workers should try and make requests for paid holiday throughout their holiday year;
  • If holiday plans suddenly change due to Covid-19 then employees should get in touch with their boss to agree alternative options for time off; and
  • Get any time off requests in as soon as possible as employers need to plan staff cover for their businesses and are unlikely to agree staff all taking holiday at the same time.

It also advises that employees check the latest Government guidance before and after travelling in terms of quarantine. Those forced to isolate due to quarantine do not have a right to Statutory Sick Pay, but their employer can choose to pay them sick pay at the same rate as SSP or a higher rate if they want to.

For the full Acas advice on paid time off please visit, and for self isolation please visit,

Meanwhile, dating app Bumble has said its 700 employees can take unlimited paid leave providing their manager approves it and they are still managing to complete their work. It will also shut its office for a week twice a year.

In other news, the number of people on furlough in the UK has fallen sharply as the scheme nears its end and employers are forced to pay a rising contribution towards it. The Treasury says younger people have come off furlough twice as fast as other workers in the last three months.

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