The Holiday Entitlement Dilemma: How to Enjoy Christmas Without Worrying About Work

January 8, 2024

The holiday season is upon us, it is a time of joy and celebration, but it can also be a time of great activity and stress. There’s shopping, decorating, cooking, and socializing, and for many, there are also work demands. While you want to enjoy the holidays with family and friends, you may feel overwhelmed by the demands of work. 

You may have been working hard for months, and you’ve made a promise to your family to spend the holidays together. But now your manager has reminded everyone of the busy schedule, and a co-worker has expressed her need for time off.  You’re torn between your obligations and your need for rest.  Striking a balance between work and personal commitments can be difficult during this busy time. How can you approach this situation in a way that is respectful and mindful of all parties involved? 

In this article, we share insights on how you can enjoy your Christmas holidays and find a balance between your personal and professional lives during this time. It explores several issues such as how to discuss your holiday entitlements with your employers, how to manage the anxiety of taking a leave and maintain a healthy work-life balance. 

Contents 

What is meant by a holiday entitlement? 

How to manage the anxiety of taking a leave? 

How to balance work and family life during the holiday season? 

FAQs 

What is Meant by Holiday Entitlements? 

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What do holiday entitlements mean?

Employees are legally entitled to a certain number of paid days off from work, and the specifics of this entitlement vary based on several factors, which include the laws of each country, the type of employment contract, and the number of days worked by the employee. In most countries such as the United Kingdom, there is a legal minimum amount of fully paid time off that must be given to employees, known as statutory annual leave. In addition, many employers choose to offer more generous amounts of paid time off, known as contractual annual leave. This is typically negotiated when an employee is offered a job and signs an employment contract. 

In the United States, there is no federal law mandating a minimum amount of paid time off, so it’s up to employers to decide how much to offer. Some employers may offer additional paid time off for certain holidays, such as Christmas or New Year’s Day. It’s important to understand your specific employment contract and any company policies regarding paid time off so you can clear any confusion and plan accordingly. 

How to manage the anxiety of taking a leave? 

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Tips for managing absence anxiety

It’s not uncommon for employees to have mixed feelings about taking time off from work, even when they don’t realize it. This is mostly true for those employees who have leadership roles and those who may feel a sense of responsibility for their team’s workloads. On the one hand, you may feel guilty about taking time away from the office and worry that your work will pile up while you’re gone. On the other hand, you may know that taking time to rest and recharge is important for your well-being.

Although this guilt is normal, it can negatively impact an employee’s well-being. But why do so many employees have trouble making use of their holiday entitlements? One reason may be that they don’t know how to manage their work-life balance. Another reason may be that they feel pressure to be constantly available and responsive, even when they’re away from work. Whatever the reason is, it’s essential to plan to take time off that feels sustainable and fulfilling for both the employee and the employer. Below are some tips to help manage absence anxiety: 

  • Establish and stick to clear boundaries between your professional and personal life
  •  Complete your priority projects and any looming deadlines. 
  • Practice self-care exercises.

How to maintain a healthy work-life balance during holidays? 

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Maintaining work-life balance during holidays

Firstly you should learn to stick to your priorities ruthlessly and avoid entertaining any unnecessary demands such as constantly checking and replying to work emails. This also includes setting clear boundaries with your colleagues about when you’ll be available to check on your work. 

Additionally, delegate essential tasks and share any other important informal activities with your colleagues well in time to ensure that work flows smoothly in your absence. Also, make a clear plan for returning to work, to ease your mind of any anxieties about coming back to an overwhelming workload. 

During your holiday, focus on enjoying the present moments without worrying about work matters.  Make sure you relax, engage in activities that ignite your happiness, connect with your loved ones, and immerse yourself in the merriment of these holidays. 

FAQs

What if I have no holiday entitlement left but need time off?

Your employer is not obliged to grant you any leave in this case unless you have pressing matters such as bereavement, health issues or family emergencies. 

Is it right for employers to decline employee holiday requests?

It is right, but only if the employer has a legitimate business reason for doing so, such as understaffing, busy seasonal periods, or if the employee has already used up all of their available vacation days. However, if the employer is simply trying to deny the employee time off, this may be considered an unlawful action. 

Can I carry over leftover holiday entitlements? 

There is no specific employee right asserting this, so the answer depends on your employer’s leave policies and contracts. 


Juggling the demands of work and the holidays can be very challenging, but it’s a balancing act that we all have to master at some point and it’s also important as it allows you to prioritize your health and wellbeing. Remember that taking time off is essential for your physical and mental health, and don’t be afraid to set boundaries with your employer. When you’re able to find a work-life balance that works for you, you’ll feel more refreshed, focused, and productive, both during the holidays and all year round. Happy holiday season!