As an early Valentine’s present, we were treated to photos last week of former (*sob*) President Obama on holiday in the Virgin Islands, having the time of his life water-skiing, his face split into a huge grin. I, for one, am an enthusiastic supporter of Obama enjoying himself – if anyone needed a proper break, it’s him!
But, contrary to what you might be thinking, holidays aren’t just for recently ex-heads of state. This newsworthy vacation, as well as the occurrence earlier this month – Monday 6th February, to be exact – of National Sickie Day, got us thinking. How much does our holiday allowance affect our work? Would a holiday allowance affect a job offer? If not enough holiday days are on offer, have people ‘pulled sickies’ in order to get more time off?
So we did our research! We sent out a poll asking a couple of questions about holidays and sick days, and received quite a lot of responses – hopefully some of you reading this will have been responsible for some of them!
Our respondents get an average of 24.13 days holiday per year, with the lowest holiday package being 16 days, the highest 35, and most workers falling in the middle at 25 days. However, they also thought that an average of 26.12 days holiday was a reasonable annual package, with the lowest still at 16 days, the highest at a considerably higher 40, and most of the answers falling, again, square in the middle at the 25 days. Given that the legal minimum entitlement for UK holiday is 28 days paid leave (that is, 20 days holiday plus eight statutory days) for a full-time five-day working week, 25 days holiday is a fairly generous package. It also seems to be an industry norm (though you may be asked to save a few days for Christmas). So 26.12 days would obviously be more generous still.
It’s only a small difference, but this discrepancy of two whole days’ holiday between the averages of how much holiday you get and how much you think is reasonable is interesting. Most respondents answered 25 to both questions, but there’s certainly a slight trend towards thinking that more holiday is reasonable.
Almost a quarter (24.19%) of our respondents have taken a sick day because they didn’t have enough holiday. This actually ties in with national findings on this topic. This 2014 poll found that 20% of workers would fake illness to get out of work on a Monday. And a further 15% said that they would consider it.
One potential solution to this problem is for companies to include duvet days as part of their holiday package. However, it seems that this is not that popular with employers, since only 4.84% of our respondents are offered them.
This might be because they could be seen as being part of the trend of fun, but ultimately gimmicky soft benefits (like an office pool table or beer on a Friday). But actually duvet days seem to do a service to companies. Research conducted in the USA, where duvet days originated back in the 90s, has reported that some companies have managed to cut absence and sick days by around 40%. After all, if you accept that faked sick days are inevitable, then why not simply ‘make them official?’ But, of course, smaller companies aren’t really in a position to offer them because of the increase in workload that would result for the rest of the team. And, logistically, they do present problems to employers, even in larger companies.
Holidays vs. Salary
Lastly, and most significantly, it turns out that just over a quarter of respondents (25.81%) have turned down a role purely on the basis of the holiday package. And nearly a quarter of respondents (22.58%) believe that the holidays are more important than the salary.
These two statistics really show how crucial good holiday packages can be. Basically a quarter of people believe that holidays are of higher value than salaries, and would turn down a role – and have done so – on the basis that the holidays offered weren’t enough.
Holidays Are Really Quite Important, It Turns Out
Holiday allowance is clearly more important than many employers and companies give it credit for. A quarter of people, give or take a percent or two, would pull a sickie to have more days off. A quarter would turn down a role if the holiday package wasn’t good enough. And a quarter believe that holidays trump salaries. Unfortunately, however, as the employees and job applicants in this situation, there’s not much you can do to change a company’s or an employer’s mind about this.
The only thing we can suggest is this: if you leave your current job or turn down a job offer because of the holiday package, then tell the company so. Chipping away at the mountain might not make a difference straightaway. But if a few companies realise the impact and up their offer, even slightly, everyone could be a winner!