Wondering how you can get more out of your annual leave entitlement? These seven pearls of wisdom (#7POW) will leave you wondering no more. They’ll give you the skills, advice and tips you need to stretch that stingy number of holiday days into a lot more. Besides being asked how I manage to share so many blog posts, this is the question I’m often asked. With the answer to the first question here and the answer to the second one below, promise you’ll still talk to me?!
♥ Work for Netflix or Virgin
Mr Richard Branson recently let slip that Virgin is following in the footsteps of Netflix by scrapping the need for annual leave policies. Yep, no limitation on the number of days that can be taken in one year and no need to request permission. The concept is centred around the argument that work shouldn’t be measured by a set number of hours, but instead, by performance. If you can get your work done in four hours, why drag it into eight?
The proviso for this somewhat radical (but more so amazing) idea is that so long as your projects and team can meet deadlines and objectives you can manage your annual leave as you see fit. Want more leave? Look for a job at Virgin or Netflix, or do what I did and suggest the idea to your boss (obviously no guarantees he/she will adopt it, but no harm in asking, right?!).
♥ Buy Extra Leave
Many employers offer the opportunity to buy extra holiday days. The price per day is usually proportioned to your annual salary. Most employers allow you to buy up to five days ever year. Five working days is easily a full week abroad or five extra long weekends, so it’s perfect for travel fiends. *waves* This benefit might not be widely publicised at your workplace, so check your annual leave policy or speak to your HR Manager if you’re not sure.
♥ Short & Sweet
If you’ve got the stamina for it, you can squeeze in countless weekend city breaks without using a day of annual leave (assuming you’re in the normal 9-5 category). Budget airlines like Ryanair and easyJet offer very cheap flights for early Saturday morning starts and late Sunday night returns. Yes, you’ll be sleepy going out, but you can kip on the flight. And as for the lack of sleep for that Monday morning back at the desk, it’s nothing that a large, black coffee won’t fix. This style of travelling has allowed me to squeeze in a lot more trips.
♥ Take Advantage of Christmas
This pearl isn’t for everyone, particularly people who actually like their family, but it’s definitely a noteworthy point. A lot of workplaces close between Christmas and New Year, so if this applies in your job, consider fitting in a bit of travel – it won’t cost you any annual leave. If you jet off on Christmas Eve and return after the New Years Bank Holiday you can easily have just over a week away somewhere.
If you have a spare day of leave to play with you might want to come back a little later in the New Year to take advantage of cheaper flights. It’s also worth checking with your employer if they’ll be opening on Friday 2 January (2015). This is the first official day back for most, but with it being a Friday many are choosing to re-open on Monday 5 January instead. Winning!
♥ Unpaid Leave
Don’t panic if you’ve run out of annual leave and it’s only mid-way through your annual leave year. Some of you may be able to request unpaid leave. It probably won’t be publicised in your policy, so you’ll need to ask your boss or HR Manager. It’s worth noting that this option is usually reserved for special reasons. If it’s for a family wedding or something of importance you should include that in your request. Also make sure you’re on top of all projects, even ahead of deadlines if you can be, as that will help your request. There’s no harm in asking (so long as your polite and fair) so give it a try.
♥ Lieu Days & Flexi Time
Lieu days or bonus days are extra days of annual leave. If you work out of your normal contract then quite often employers will repay you with the equivalent amount of leave. Even if your role doesn’t exceed your usual hours, listen out for company events or other teams needing an extra pair of hands. If you can bag yourself a role at a Saturday meeting or weekend function you’ll then have some lieu days to use on a nice bit of travel.
Similarly, many employers offer flexi time (even if it’s not officially in your HR policies). If you work late for an evening meeting you might be entitled to take the equivalent amount of hours off. So that boring Monday night meeting might not be such of a chore after all if it means you can leave at lunchtime on Friday for that weekend break. In both instances it’s likely that there will be an expiration date on the bonus time off, so plan strategically.
♥ Career Break
If you’ve had your eye on a trip to Australia or another long-haul destination, but you’re out of annual leave, you may still have the option of a career break. This benefit is usually reserved for staff who have been in post for a few years, but check your HR policy for the exact details. It basically offers the chance to take a few months out of work. Very often you won’t be paid during the break, but you will have the security of still having your job when you come back. If your request is accepted don’t be tempted to spend a load of time at home watching TV. Really make the most of it and plan that epic trip that you’ve been dreaming about. You probably won’t get more than one career break so maximise the opportunity.
Besides purposefully looking for employers who are generous with their leave allowance, earning extra days by being a loyal employee, or perhaps stuffing employment in favour of a location independent lifestyle, these seven tips should keep you travelling that little bit longer whilst still paying the bills.
Do you have any tips or advice to add to this list? Have you coped with your leave allowance this year or do you need more? I’d love to hear from you in the comments box below. X