That's a lot of beach time! The number of leave days SA and other countries waste every year

2019-09-09 04:52 - Marisa Crous
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Tropical Beach Haad Rin, Koh Phangan, Thailand - B

The 'cycle of leave' is what many employees build their work-year around. April holidays: check! December leave: requested! 

My Wage says that "Every employee is entitled to 21 consecutive days annual leave on full pay in every leave cycle. This equates to 15 working days per annum if the employee works a five-day week, and 18 working days per annum if the employee works a six-day week."

That is the South African minimum, while various companies grant its employees up to 25 days of annual leave.

But many employees - more so than ever - are not taking leave. 

A study by IPSOS showed that last year, 57% South Africans disagreed with the statement that they will spend at least one week away from home on holiday. While 35% admitted to checking work emails and messages while on holiday. And only 50% of respondents agreed that they use up all their annual leave days.  

Not even a week break in an entire year of work?!

Every year I sit at my desk, absolutely flabbergasted by fellow colleagues who tell me they 'have to take leave' or they'll lose their days. Um, what? 

Fair to say, I will never, ever find myself in this boat. You'll find me ON A BOAT, on holiday! 

But it seems to be an increasing international trend as 60% of respondents from Spain added that they don't take a week's holiday in a year, plus a new study by US Travel found that Americans are taking fewer and fewer holiday leave every year. Working harder and harder - or more, for that matter - it found that annual leave days are piling up across the nation. 

READ: Should SA be selling package holidays like this: All-inclusive Cape Town combo - luxe city break + lipo and a colonic'? 

That came to a whopping 150 million Americans in the workforce collectively discarding an estimated 768 million days of leave. That's a lot of beach time! And because these leave days were, essentially, forfeited it resulted in a cost of $65.5 billion in lost benefits.

Last year, The Independent polled 2000 millennials and found that over 60% of them 'waste' their annual leave on doing 'life admin'. This often includes activities like going to the bank, taking the day off for a bachelorette party weekend or doing their tax. Sufficed to say, most felt that their annual leave could be put to better use. 

We asked our Twitter following what they do: 

Interestingly, it turns out that it's a split between those who use most of their holiday leave days every year, vs those who take almost no leave. 

READ: Are South Africans too afraid and stressed to take sick leave?

Not just lost benefits, there is a greater economic impact

There is a greater economic cost often not considered when people don't take their leave days. It's not just about your own personal benefits that you lose out on, but it has a ripple effect that directly impacts the economy at large. 

Not going on holiday means we are spending less on travelling, and for that matter the travel industry and its people. It impacts the job market.

But the cost of travel is often the exact reason why people choose not to take leave, says The Huffington Post. Taking time off and just chilling at home is one thing, however going somewhere on holiday means spending money. Often, excessive amounts. This all sounds pretty obvious, however it seems that millennials are citing the cost of travel as a barrier to taking leave more so than other generations like Gen X and the Baby Boomers.  

Health24 reported that a study found that 80% of South Africans go to work despite having a cold or flu. But the most interesting part of this study was, in fact that it was discovered that it actually costs employers twice as much in loss of productivity when employees came to work sick.

And I would argue, the same goes for being burnt out. Overworked. Not having the energy to give 100%. 

Take leave. Our GDP depends on it. 

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