Many employees are struggling to clear their days of annual leave, said human resource experts, as COVID-19 travel restrictions prevent Singaporeans from going overseas for leisure. A similar issue can be seen developing throughout many other Southeast Asian nations as well.
Some employees have tried to save up their unused leave days to bring them forward to the next year, but the lack of a break from work could take a toll on their mental and physical health, experts told CNA.
“Many employees tend to not take annual leave when they are working from home, as they do not feel like they need a ‘getaway’ from the office environment,” said Ms Jaya Dass, Randstad’s managing director for Singapore and Malaysia.
“However, not taking leave for a long period of time can impact energy levels, mental health and overall well-being,” she said, adding that this could lead to employee burnout.
Over-working could also cause higher stress levels, more health problems, as well as reduced creativity and performance, said Robert Walters South East Asia HR director Tricia Tan, factors which could reduce productivity.
Employees hoarding and carrying forward their unused leave days is also an issue for companies, noted Ms Dass, as firms would have to register those unused leave days as a financial liability in the profit and loss statements.
And this might not be a feasible option for start-ups and SMEs that usually have a lower cash flow, she said.
If companies allow employees to bring forward their unused leave to the next year, it could lead to a “drastic drop” in the workforce when leisure travel can resume.
“This would affect productivity levels and increase stress on the employees who have to take on more workload,” Ms Dass added.