Do people have more Annual leave because of COVID-19?

Connor IbbetsonData Journalist
November 27, 2020, 2:25 PM UTC

A quarter of workers have “much more” annual leave left than this time last year, averaging 17 days still to take at a time when there are only 27 working days left in the year!

With travel restrictions in place for much of the year because of COVID-19, many Britons have been gambling with their annual leave – putting it off for the possibility that they will be able to spend it on a proper holiday later on, rather than wasting it on a trip to their couch.

As we reach the cusp of December, it seems that gamble has not paid off. Now a new YouGov survey reveals just how many unused days of leave workers are sitting on as we head towards the end of the year.

Overall, workers who receive annual leave say they are given a average of 27 days each year, and have an average of 12 days remaining to use, meaning many workers will have 44% of their annual leave left to take before years end or risk losing it. 

There appears to be little appetite for workers to take leave during the various systems of lockdown across Britain. When YouGov asked this same question to workers in mid-October, they reported an average of 13 days of annual leave remaining, only one day higher than the most recent average of 12 days remaining.

Overall two fifths (40%) say this is more annual leave than they usually have left at this time of year, including 23% who say their remaining time off is “much more” than they would usually have. This compares to 41% who say they their remaining level is about what they had at the same time last year. Only one in eleven (9%) workers with leave say they’ve got less to use than this time in 2019.

Among those who said they have “much more” annual leave this year compared to last, the average number of days they have left stands at 17 – at the time the survey was run there were only 27 working days left in the year! Those who say they have about the same as last year still have an average of 10 days left to use up.

Many workplaces do not allow workers to roll all unspent annual leave over to the next calendar year, and with so many workers having days left over December could become an even quieter month than usual this year.

See full results for October here and November here