The only obligation on an employer is to allow employees to exercise their entitlement to take annual leave and rest from work. You cannot force them to take a holiday. However, the right to annual leave was brought in on health and safety grounds so employers should take reasonable steps to get their employees to rest.
Look at what work your employee is doing and find out why they are unwilling to let go of it while they are on leave. Does your employee have more work than they can cope with so that they feel that they have to use their holiday to clear the things they haven’t managed to do so far? Do they have difficulty delegating and need assistance in working out when to let go of matters and leave them with someone else?
Do they have a legitimate concern that their work is not properly or efficiently dealt with in their absence? The most common work that employees tend to carry out when on holiday is checking and responding to emails, particularly if they have some type of smartphone. Consider the nature of the email queries that they receive. If your employee tends to get emails requiring a fast turnaround but they know that their mail box is only being checked once or twice a day when someone gets round to it then they may feel obliged to check their emails to ensure that issues from colleagues or clients are dealt with in time.
There may be a far more basic issue which is a concern that no-one will deal with the work that comes into them during their absence. You can tackle this concern by making sure that there are systems in place to ensure that this work is covered by someone else while this employee is off so they know that they are not going to come back to a pile of work and complaints that it hasn’t been done yet.
You may find that your employee is working while on leave because they cannot get the work done while they are in the office. Look at tackling any issues within the workplace that are preventing your employee from doing this work there, such as equipment or the environment.
There is always the possibility that your employee is concerned, rightly or wrongly, that they are not able to do their job and that this will come to light if someone covers their work in their absence. Make sure you have appropriate monitoring systems in place and that your employee is getting the support and feedback that they need to be confident that they can relax without worrying about what will be waiting for them on their return.
For any further clarification, please call our 24 Hour Advice Service on 0844 892 2772.