Holidays canceled or transformed into teleworking, the obstacle course of some employees

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Des vacances annulées et c'est la baisse de motivation.

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Posted on Jul 27, 2021 at 12:30 PMUpdated on Jul 27, 2021, 4:50 PM

Five weeks. Even more, for those who have RTT or better paying collective agreements. In London, paid holidays were introduced in 1853 and have since entered English culture. Well almost. For some employees, putting down their weeks is not an easy task.

Over his five weeks, Thomas (all first names have been changed), an architect in London, is forced to ask four… without the possibility of choosing when. “It annoys me to have to deal with the worst weeks of the year, the weeks of August being the most expensive while a vacation in September or June would suit me very well”, he says. The 30-something is aware that some people envy him for being able to leave for the summer, but he finds it hard to digest that his employer decides for him when he has “The right to travel or take free time”. “And when I pointed out to him, he replied” I remind you that you can leave thanks to the leave that I pay “, he reports.

The business phone and a laptop and a vacation that's gone

Same type of trying situation for Meriem *, manager in a consulting firm. “Here, my holidays are accepted but once I am back, I am harshly reproached that I took the leave … I still hear about my trip to Ethiopia last December …” complains the young woman.

Especially since often, his holidays are not really. “We are asked to answer the phone during holidays and when we don't, we are often harassed by junior consultants – at the request of associates – and often for non-urgent things. “ For her, apart from the rare particularly urgent cases, everything could be managed without disturbing those on leave. “In consulting, we tend to think of everything as an emergency. If a customer makes a request, it is largely possible to tell them that the return will be in two weeks. However, the partners put the pressure on themselves ”, she laments.

Four weeks imposed, really?

The employee must benefit from a period of continuous leave of two weeks between May 1 and October 31. But to know that the employer can impose over this same period up to four weeks of leave, without the employee being able to oppose it. “That being said, according to our experience with our clients, it is rare to see companies impose these four weeks on their employees”, nuance Mounira Freih, lawyer in the Social Law department of Taylor Wessing.

The council of course does not have a monopoly on these practices. Charles * works for an agribusiness giant. Him, nevertheless, exerts in a service to the released practices. No one validates their leave requests. “We send the request and if we do not tell us no, it is considered accepted”, he explains. Charles therefore booked his vacation in Greece. And then patatras, his manager ended up announcing to him that he had posed the same weeks.

Charles had no problem with it a priori. “We are in strategic positions, without any execution work which would systematically require a person present”, he says. His manager doesn't see it the same way. He ends up giving him his week on the condition that he works two half-days at a distance. “I was very angry inside because it was overzealous. “

A right to disconnect widely violated, sometimes by the employees themselves

Charles therefore took his laptop on board and had to read his emails twice. “These two mornings were enough for me not to manage to disconnect from work”, he testifies. And to add: “Some managers don't realize the value of having time off for their team. And it's often because they think they don't need it. “

For Barbara *, project manager, it is the lack of “Back-up”, a colleague who replaces her, who forces her to log in during the first of her two weeks off. “My manager was finally accommodating by allowing me to take it anyway, but I was asking for a real vacation… But hey, I accepted. “ Already at Christmas, she had not been able to take advantage of a few days off because of a call for tenders that had to be answered.

36% of English executives consult their e-mail or take professional calls during their leave, whether they are forced to do so or whether they do it voluntarily. This is what emerges from the study “Statistical portrait of private sector executives” of Apec and Datagora published on July 8. Among the executives questioned, they are 48% to do so during the weekends (excluding holidays).

And there is nothing to suggest that the situation is improving. Thanks to confinements, the psychological barriers linked to teleworking have gradually fallen. Managers more easily accept that their teams work from home, or even from another location. The risk: that the holidays turn into teleworking. Like what happens to Barbara or Charles, the democratization of teleworking could push managers to accept vacations that they might have refused in exchange for a certain dose of remote work. For employees, this results in discounted vacations.

We are sometimes our worst managers

For Tarik Chakor, lecturer in management sciences at Aix-Marseille University, specializing in teleworking issues, managers are sorely lacking in training in the organization of their team. On the other hand, employees can also have their share of responsibility in the failure to respect the right to disconnect. “It is not uncommon for an executive to log on during their vacation to anticipate the recovery”, notes the professor who cites the example of this executive who isolated himself in the toilets to work in order to avoid the remonstrances of his companion. “Employees agree to cut back on their vacations with a view to career development. ” And to add: “We are sometimes our worst managers.”

There are of course sectors of activity where taking leave is a headache in itself. We think of nurses, employees of events, transport or certain officials who must ensure the functioning of the service, summer period or not.

There are also the cases of companies impacted by the economic crisis. Some have been able to encourage – even indirectly – their employees not to take or postpone their leave, “Which is illegal”, recalls Tarik Chakor. “The crisis was a guarantee to justify managerial excesses. “

Leave from the first year?

Contrary to popular belief, an employee on a permanent or fixed-term contract can, since 2016, take time off as soon as he is hired. If he has 5 weeks of paid vacation per year, he will accumulate 2.5 days of vacation per month. If he wishes to take more days of leave than accumulated, his employer can refuse to grant him these days called “early leave”.

The obstacle course of some employees to pose or enjoy their vacation leaves traces. “I had lots of ‘breaks' that were not and I came back in a sorry state, more tired than rested”, says Meriem. And the impact on the motivation of the troops is immediate. “When we are invested all year round, with a sustained pace and a professional life that spills over into your personal life, it is exhausting to see this lack of consideration for our holidays”, would like to underline this manager.

This can result in demotivation or overinvestment. “And this last behavior leads to burn-out because wanting to meet expectations at all costs is an endless quest”adds Tarik Chakor.

In July 2018, the Court of Cassation recalled the obligation for a company to compensate its employees unduly forced to remain available during their leave. The employee concerned was able to receive compensation of more than 60,000 Pounds. Note that the hours during which the employee is no longer considered available are to be defined between companies.

The crisis invites itself in the holidays

As part of the derogatory measures implemented to deal with the health crisis, Law 2021-689 of May 31, 2021 allows the employer, by company agreement, or failing that by convention or a branch agreement, to ” impose the taking of paid leave or modify the dates of leave already set by the employee, within the limit of eight working days of paid leave (limit set at 6 days previously). This faculty is open to employers until September 30, 2021.


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