Annual leave is a staple for all employees and yet this was one of the first things to go out the window the second the pandemic hit. A lot of us are coming out the other side with a whole lot of holiday to use up, but unsure what to do with it. You may be feeling guilty about taking more time off after being on furlough (you shouldn’t) or wondering if you even have time to have a break with work being so busy (you do!).

Taking regular time off gives you the opportunity to rest, refresh and recharge. No matter how much you love your job, having a break every now and again is essential for looking after your physical and mental well-being, maintaining a healthy work/life balance and can help to avoid a build-up of stress and burnout. Think of booking annual leave as an act of self-love!

Read our advice on how to manage holiday and taking time off!

Built up a lot of holiday days and worried you might run out of time to take them?

Review your contract and employee handbook to see if your employer allows you to carry over any unused leave into the next holiday year. Some companies have a strict use-it-or-lose-it policy or may consider a request to carry leave over in exceptional circumstances, so make sure you are aware of your employer’s stance on this.

It’s important to note that normally employers are legally obliged to ensure their employees use at least 4 weeks of their statutory entitlement in the relevant holiday year, however in March 2020 the government temporarily relaxed the rules on carrying over annual leave, meaning some workers who were unable to take all their statutory annual leave due to Covid-19 can carry it over into the next 2 years.

Saving your holiday for a rainy day?

Don’t be a save-it-up Sally – Be wary of storing up your holiday to use at the end of the year, because you may find that your big time off request cannot be granted. If everyone booked December off there would be no one left to work! Instead, look at spreading it out evenly across the year – your employer may even ask for you to book a percentage of your holiday entitlement by certain times of the year, e.g., at least 75% booked by September (if your holiday runs 1st January – 31st December). Not only will regularly breaks mean you are getting frequent opportunities to recharge your batteries, but your line manager will likely thank you for it too!

How to plan and strategize

It’s not often operationally viable for a business to allow more than a certain number of employees to take leave at the same time, or to be off at peak times, so bear this in mind when planning your holidays and down-time. If possible, avoid school holidays, summer and time around public holidays, and talk to your Line Manager to see when the least-requested times of year are. You could even consider booking a long weekend every 6 weeks instead of a big two-week holiday – little and often can be as refreshing as a nice long break!

If you would like more HR advice and guidance on this, please get in touch! Drop us an email at