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£Billions Of Holiday Entitlement Lost Each Year

Press release   •   Nov 07, 2014 00:00 GMT

But Employees Can Make Sterling Work Harder For Leftover Holiday By Avoiding Christmas Getaways 

·  Post Office Travel Money research shows £5.37bn of paid leave is unclaimed annually

·  Around half of UK employees lose an average of six days paid holiday a year

·  Holiday year for over two-in-five employees ends in December – 31 per cent plan holidays before then and will spend an average of £638 per person

·  Those travelling over Christmas could pay twice as much as in early December

Hard-working UK employees are habitually giving up almost 60 million days of their annual holiday entitlement – worth a staggering £5.37 billion, according to new research1.  At the same time, the Post Office Travel Money Holiday Entitlement Report reveals that 31 per cent of those whose current holiday year ends in December plan to use some or all of their entitlement on holidays before then using an average budget of £638 per person2.

Despite this intention, the research shows that only 50 per cent of all employees – falling to a third of those aged 18-24 - took all the holiday due to them in their last full holiday year.  44 per cent of the survey respondents were in full time employment, thus qualifying for at least 28 days’ statutory leave per annum, and they lost around six days’ paid leave, which is worth £542.40, based on the average weekly earnings of employees in Great Britain.

The same pattern is emerging for the current holiday year – with an average of over seven days still due to employees and little compensation if they cannot take their full entitlement3.  Only 10 per cent of respondents said that their employer has agreed to pay them in lieu of lost days.  17 per cent said they are too busy at work to take time off and a further 16 per cent said that their employer makes it difficult for them to take their full entitlement.

The problem becomes more marked for the two-in-five (42 per cent) of workers whose holiday year runs from January-December.  The survey found that these employees have an average of 5.5 days’ leave due to them before their entitlement runs out in less than two months’ time.  One-in-five still have 10 or more days of holiday entitlement left.

However, the Post Office Travel Money research reveals that over three-in-ten (31 per cent) of employees whose entitlement runs out on 31 December intend to book a holiday before then – and half of those people will travel over the Christmas period.   

Even more workers from the Birmingham area are planning a holiday getaway. 45 per cent intend to take some or all of their remaining entitlement on a trip away from home, of which 17 per cent will do so over Christmas4.

Although people with paid leave to take before the end of December set a generous average holiday budget of £638 per person – rising to £1,000 or more for one-in-five (22 per cent), separate Post Office Travel Money research found that people would be better advised to travel early in December rather than over the festive season.  A week away including Christmas and Boxing Day to four destinations rated among the cheapest in the Post Office’s recent Winter Sunshine Report was found to cost 43-52 per cent more than it would earlier in the month5.

Cost Comparison of a seven-night B&B flight-inclusive package for one with resort meals/drinks


Departing 6-7 December

Departing 20-23 December

Saving early December

Tenerife: 4* Interpalace Hotel, Puerto de la Cruz




Cyprus: 4* Napa Mermaid Hotel, Ayia Napa




Sri Lanka: 3* Coral Sands Hotel, Hikkaduwa




Thailand: 3* Patong Beach Lodge, Phuket




Andrew Brown, Post Office Travel Moneysaid:“The message for people who have only a short time left in which to use up this year’s holiday entitlement is clear:  Do your homework on the timing of your trip and pick a destination where package costs are reasonable and resort prices low to ensure you get the best possible value. 

“Early December is always a cheaper time to travel and our latest research has found that Tenerife and Cyprus are great value in Europe while those old favourites, Thailand and Sri Lanka, are good choices further afield.

“Keep an eye on exchange rate movements to ensure you get the most travel cash for your pounds. Calculate how much you are likely to spend while abroad and change enough cash to see you through, remembering that there are improved rates for higher value transactions.”

The Post Office is the UK’s leading provider of foreign currency, offering euro on demand at over 10,000 branches and US dollars at 4,000 branches. 1,600 larger Post Office Branches stock 30 leading currencies while more than 70 can be pre-ordered at over 11,500 branches or online at for next day branch or home delivery. 

Employees planning holidays abroad can check exchange rates at a local Post Office or online – where rates are improved for higher value transactions.  They can also compare resort costs by visiting or by using the new Travel Essential Mobile App, available to download free of charge on the App Store or at Google Play.


Notes to Editors:

1  Post Office research by Populus among 1,048 UK adults in full or part time employment (24-26 October 2014) found that only 50 per cent took all their holiday entitlement in their last full holiday year.  The remaining 50 per cent took an average of 21.93 days, more than six fewer than the statutory level of annual holiday leave (28 days).

The figure of £5.37bn worth of lost holiday entitlement is calculated using the Office for National Statistics report on the UK Labour Market October 2014:

·  22.48m people are in full time employment in the UK

·  The Populus research found that 44 per cent of people in full time employment fail to take all of their annual holiday entitlement.  Using the ONS figure, this equates to 9,892,520 people

·  Pay averages £452 a week – equating to £90.40 a day, meaning that six days is worth £542.40

·  Multiply the 9,892,520 full time employees who failed to take an average of six days leave by £542.40  

2 Post Office research by Populus (24-26 October) into plans by employees for their current holiday year ending in December found that 31 per cent of intend to travel on holiday. 14 per cent intend to take all of their remaining holiday days and will book a trip abroad, two per cent will take some of that entitlement and travel abroad while a further 15 per cent will use their remaining holiday on a Christmas break.  When asked how much they are budgeting to spend on that holiday the average figure overall was £714.22.  The average budget for those with a holiday year running from January-December was £638.48 and 22 per cent of that group said they plan to spend £1,000 or more. 

3 In their current holiday year, a mean average of 7.37 days remains to be taken by employees irrespective of the dates applicable for holiday years.  Those with a holiday year of January-December have 5.53 days on average left to take while those with a holiday year running from April-March (38 per cent of respondents) have 8.87 days left to take.

4 45 per cent of employees from Birmingham cent intend to travel abroad on holiday during their current holiday year (based on a survey size of 78 people).  23 per cent will take all of their remaining holiday days and will book a trip abroad, five per cent will take some of that entitlement and travel abroad while a further 17 per cent will use their remaining holiday on a Christmas break. 

5 Source: prices on 31 October 2014

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