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Why you should take ALL of your annual leave

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Stressed? Feeling burned out? Time to take a break?

We all need breaks, whether it’s from juggling work and family life, or just a change of scenery to recharge.

The whole idea of a holiday is to switch off and unwind. I recently took a week off in Portugal. At that point, I was 3 months without a proper break and was beginning to feel it. I came back after the week energised and ready for action.

Cpl Employment Monitor survey found that over 80% of the Irish population don’t take their full annual leave entitlement.

It’s hard to believe so many people let the opportunity to take time off go to waste. Some of the main reasons for this are, employees are:

  • Too busy to take a holiday
  • Afraid to leave their colleague in the lurch
  • Under too much pressure
  • A zero “holiday culture” with the organisation

According to Citizens Information Ireland:

“Your entitlement to annual leave or holidays from work is set out in legislation and in your contract of employment. Legislation gives various entitlements to leave from work.

These include annual leave, public holidays, maternity leave, adoptive leave, carer’s leave, parental leave and other types of leave from work. It is also important to note that the periods of leave provided for by legislation are the minimum entitlements only, you and your employer may agree to additional entitlements.

In other words, you are entitled to time off, how much will depend on your employer. Make sure you understand your entitlements and that you use all of your leave. It’s there for a reason!

How to fully enjoy your time off

Switch Off

A recent Glassdoor survey found that nearly half (44%) of employees reported doing some work while on holiday. The rise of mobile technology has a huge part to play in this.

Going away on your holiday, constantly “plugged in” to your iPhone is not a holiday.

It may seem harmless at the time, but having constant communication with the office isn’t beneficial to either you or those around you. Set the boundaries before you go on leave. The world isn’t going to end, and if you have a reliable point of contact they should be able to cover on the essentials.

Plan Ahead

The earlier you book your leave the better for your boss, rather than last-minute requests. Plan around the busy times in work and try to align your time off around them.

Know what’s reasonable and what’s not. For example, you’re not going to take 2 weeks off in the middle of year-end or a key deadline. Communicate to your boss and colleagues so they know when you will be away, and a reminder to your boss the day before you leave is a good idea.

I manage a team of recruiters here in Cpl. I really encourage them to take their breaks. Everyone punches in on average 2-3 extra hours a week, so flexibility is key. I’m a great believer in working hard and really enjoying your time off.

Taking all of your annual leave

  1. Plan a break at least once a quarter. It will give you something to look forward to and keep you going.
  2. Don’t take days here and there. You would be surprised how fast a day here and there, plus the odd long weekend, can swallow up your annual leave.
  3. Take a minimum of 1 week off in blocks, or 2 weeks if you can do it over the summer.
  4. Avoid really long haul flights if taking a short time off. The jet lag will wreck you.
  5. While away, switch off your email (unless you really can’t). The world will still be standing when you get back.
  6. An obvious thing, but some still forget, put on your out of office on both email and voicemail to let your clients know you are away and who is covering for you.

As we are now getting into the swing of the summer season, I would get out your diary and book that trip away. Taking your annual leave should reduce stress, not cause it.

If you’re interested in a more permanent break from your current role you can browse all our live job opportunities on our job board or get in touch to speak to a recruiter that specialsies in your field.

This article was originally published in 2016 and has since been updated and republished.