Just like land resource which depletes over time due to over utilisation, so is the human brain and body. Leave describes a time an employee takes time off official work ideally with permission from their workplace to refresh, reflect, reorganise and reconstruct. Taking leave from work is an important venture for employers and employees.
Work without rest makes one unproductive in the long run. Generally, taking leave improves one’s productivity at work since a rested mind is more creative and can concentrate better.
“There is thus need to give employees time to rest so as to regain productivity, which explains the need to take leave by employees or else nothing productive comes out of tired minds,” says Mr Yasiin Musosi, director, Addie Consulting Company limited.
Besides, employees need to take leave for it’s their right in the labour laws. Actually, most human resource managers are tasked to ensure that every employee takes leave as a form of compliance to the labour law. Additionally, employees need to take leave because it is considered a key performance indict or for some human resource managers. Consequently, if employees don’t go on leave, it implies under performance on the HR’s score card.
“As an employer, ensure that all your employees take their annual leave. Here is the reason; parties to a contract of employment have a right to terminate it. Under the law, if an employment contract is terminated, but the employee has accumulated unspent leave days, the employer is supposed to compensate him or her for those days,” highlights Mr Emmanuel Elau, a legal consultant, at Elau and Ochom Legal Advocates and Consultants.
He adds that the amount can be computed by establishing how much the employee was earning per day (monthly salary divided by number of working days in a month) then multiplied by the number of unused leave days. This may put the employer under additional financial strain during this period. So employers and employees should always design leave plans to ensure all the staff go for leave in an organised manner without jeopardising the employer’s operations.
“Leave aids in relieving one of the stress and fatigue. During leave, an employee can solve personal problems that could be affecting his work. Besides, it helps him or her to engage in activities that relax his or her mind and body,” says Mark Samanya Bwire, founder, Time to Act Now.
Musosi notes, “Time away from work also helps one to create time for socialising with friends and family that they rarely give enough attention during work due to tight schedules and heavy workload. Also, it helps one to vent out work related stress and attain normal functionality”.
When leave is pre-planned, it aids both employer and employee to prioritise tasks. For example, must dos before leave and searching for a potential ‘step in’ for the employee during leave. In the long-run, it improves teamwork and overall organisational performance. Employees who take leave find their work more fulfilling and work with morale more than those who don’t.
Ideally, leave if well managed can be a field for self-improvement for the employee. One can take on short skills development and improvement class, initiate or supervise a personal business among others.
Leave is necessary to help employees think differently so that they can generate fresh personal ideas as Musosi says, “Personal improvement can only be thought of when the mind is at rest”.
Notably, leaves force employers to have a backup plan. Mr Hudson Mugweri, a public relations practitioner, Hill + Knowlton Strategies says, “If one is on leave, the employer will understand that the person on leave needs replacement. This forces him to have a better back up plan. For example if an IT personnel falls sick for two months, a break down in the system will alert the HR that he needs more personnel for backup.
However, an employee should ensure that leave is pre-planned and organised to avoid disrupting normal workplace operations. “It should be communicated in advance to allow adequate time for the employer to reorganise the team to be left behind to cover up when you are on leave,” advises Samanya.
Depending on the nature of your work, it might necessitate keeping open communication lines for any consultations. To avoid these ‘interruptions’ during the leave, the employer should ensure that he ‘clears his table’ to date or clearly communicates pending tasks to his superiors.
Meanwhile, he cautions that taking leave should never be used as an escape from demanding and tasking workload.
In Uganda, employees are entitled to annual leave for at least 22 working days. However, it’s also true that many employees, for whatever reasons, don’t take their leave.
That withstanding, a handful of employees still dread taking leave for reasons such as lack of a clear work plan and resources to use during leave and heavy workload upon return among others. Despite this, employees need and should be encouraged to take leave for rejuvenation of energy levels hence increasing productivity at work.