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  • New report reveals the extent of cancelled annual leave in 2020

New report reveals the extent of cancelled annual leave in 2020

Read on to discover the surprising stats…

Thursday, Apr 29, 2021
2 min read

We’ve crunched the numbers in our BrightHR system to see how the coronavirus and lockdown impacted employee annual leave in 2020. Let’s take a look at what we found…

An overview

Our latest report shows that 28% of UK workers have cancelled annual leave in 2020.

The report uses data from over 300,000 employees using our holiday planner. And it found that the two months with the most cancelled leave were April and May, which is unsurprising as the UK was in a full lockdown.

April had the most cancellations, with 31,762 employees putting holidays on hold. While May followed with 25,083 delayed days off.

As you can see from the graph above, the holiday cancellations continued to be high for the rest of the year (in comparison to 2019) despite lockdown easing.

At the moment, delayed leave in December is currently lower than it was in 2019, although that could change before the end of the year.

Regional differences

Those in the South were the most likely to sacrifice their time off. In fact, three of the ten counties with the most missed breaks were in the South East, as well as London and Essex.

As you can see, employees in Essex cancelled the most leave with 3,068 employees cancelling 9,221 holidays so far.

Men vs women

Women cancelled much more time off than anyone else. In total, they cancelled 120,000 holidays in comparison with just 79,000 by men.

What’s the verdict?

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 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 and 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.

“The onus is on employers to fully explain their annual leave process to staff, as well as the updated rules around annual leave carryover, 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.”

Use BrightHR to transform your holiday management

BrightHR is award-winning HR software that makes it easy to manage your staff holidays. It lets you approve annual leave requests in a swipe, check your holiday calendar with ease, and get automatic annual leave calculations.

And if you decide to let staff carry over annual leave into 2021, BrightHR makes that simple too. Just enter how many days an employee wants to carry over and BrightHR instantly adds this to the next year’s balance.

To see BrightHR’s holiday management software in action, book your free demo today.


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