Job pressures keep staff from taking holidays

January 7, 2000

Academics are too busy to take their holiday entitlement, a survey has found, writes Michael Bird.

The University of the West of England branch of the lecturers' union Natfhe found that many take only three to five weeks of their seven weeks' entitlement.

Reasons given included the need to improve career opportunities through publishing or taking additional qualifications, demands such as exam boards, course management commitments and the pressure of the research assessment exercise. Some of those who did take their full holiday used it for research.

Chris Miller, who compiled the survey, said: "There are not many other vocations where workers are willing to give up holiday in order to work."

The problems were too few staff, too many students and too much assessment. Periods of teaching were seen as a time when it would be unreasonable to take a holiday.

This has affected performance. "I get run down and stressed, therefore less efficient and more prone to illness," one lecturer said.

Some staff were unaware that five weeks was available for research and scholarly activity, and 64 per cent said they could not take off such time.

The business school is planning a survey of workplace stress.

Twenty per cent of Natfhe's UWE branch responded to the survey, which was conducted in June 1999.

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