Acas findings reveal that two-fifths of staff are taking less time off now than prior to the pandemic, with the public body encouraging staff to use up their holiday. 

New findings by the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) shows almost two-fifths (39 per cent) of UK staff have taken less paid time off since the pandemic began.

A survey carried out by YouGov, on behalf of the body, found that staff at both SMBs and large organisations were likely to have taken less time off since COVID-19.

This was more prevalently seen among employees at small to medium sized businesses, with almost half (44 per cent) reporting they were either a “little less likely” or a “lot less likely” to have taken paid time off.

However, this was similarly seen at large organisations too with over a third (35 per cent) stating the same.

Conversely, just 5 per cent overall felt they had taken more time off compared to the same period in a normal year.

Acas has insisted that taking time off allows employees to be well-rested and to maintain their physical and mental health. The body has urged workers to use their holiday entitlement within their current leave year where possible.

In response to the pandemic, the Government introduced a law allowing employees and workers to carry over up to 4 weeks’ statutory paid holiday into their next 2 holiday leave years. This law applies for any holiday that staff do not take due to COVID-19.

However, Acas has advised that staff should try and make requests for paid holiday throughout their holiday year. It states that this should be done as soon as possible to allow employers to plan for staff cover.

In addition, if holiday plans do change unexpectedly due to COVID-19, the public body states staff should be encouraged to contact their employers immediately to organise alternative time off.

Susan Clews, Acas Chief Executive, said:

Our poll findings are unsurprising as many workers may have taken advantage of a new law introduced last year, which allows them to carry over most of their paid time off into this year.

Whilst the easing of pandemic restrictions is good news for many businesses, many staff will be keen to use up the leave they have saved up to take advantage of the summer season.

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 commissioned YouGov to survey 2,006 employees in a representative sample of British businesses. This survey was carried out between 15 and 28 June 2021.





Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.