Have you found yourself picking up your colleague’s workload while they jet off for a week in the sunshine? If so, you’re not alone. British workers are clocking up an average 6.5 extra working hours each week because their employers are failing to prepare for the holiday season. That’s according to new research commissioned by Elance-Odesk, an online marketplace which connects businesses and freelancers.

The survey of 1,000 UK full-time workers reveals that 88% are taking on additional work to cover for absent colleagues. To cope with the strain, over half of workers (52%) questioned have worked through their lunch hour, while 53% admit to leaving the office later. For some employees, work doesn’t stop when they leave the office. 49% admit to having to take work home and work over the weekend to get through the extra workload.

This increase in unplanned workload is driving job dissatisfaction amongst employees with a quarter saying they are feeling stressed and unappreciated. Alarmingly, one in ten workers said they are considering leaving their jobs as a result of the summer strain.

It’s further bad news for businesses with 10% of workers admitting to making mistakes on behalf of their company as they are expected to take on work they are not qualified to do.

Hayley Conick, Country Manager of Elance-oDesk said: “Holidays are essential to give employees the chance to recharge their batteries. Yet, businesses are failing to plan for the summer strain leaving those left behind to pick up the slack.”

To prepare for the inevitable holiday season, over half of workers believe their company could improve the way it manages workloads by bringing in skilled freelance support. Yet, only 5% of employees said their companies are actually doing so.

Conick continued, “By bringing in skilled freelancers over this period, businesses can mitigate unnecessary stress and job dissatisfaction amongst employees with out adding to their fixed cost base.”