Annual leave is a valuable benefit that gives employees the chance to recharge and take a break from work. It is important for employees to use their annual leave wisely and efficiently to ensure they get ample rest throughout the year.
While it is tempting to save up all your annual leave and use them all at one go, it is often not recommended. If you do that, you’ll most likely work 11 months straight without any breaks (except for the occasional public holiday) which will have a negative impact on your physical and mental health.
To boost productivity and face new challenges, schedule well-deserved annual leave breaks throughout the year.
Here are some helpful tips to plan your annual leave and maximise them throughout the year so that you can live a healthier and happier work life!
1. know your annual leave entitlement
It is important to be aware of the annual leave entitlements provided by your employer and the local labour laws in your country of work. Leave entitlement varies depending on your employer, but it's typically calculated based on the number of days and years worked.
Have a look through your company’s policies, your employment contract or your local labour laws to find out how many annual leave days you’re entitled to and the required notice periods for annual leaves.
Knowing how many days that you should get (even at the minimum) can help you maximise your planning of your leave days better.
In Hong Kong, employees are qualified for 7 days of paid annual leave in their first 2 years of employment, and an additional day for each subsequent year for employment thereafter up until their ninth year.
Besides statutory annual leave, companies may sometimes have additional leave entitlements, such as additional paid vacation days, birthday leave, vaccination leave, sabbatical leave, mental health day leave and more.
With good annual leave planning, you can make the most of your annual break once the right amount of days are set aside.
2. make full use of the public holidays
One way to have an effective annual leave planning strategy is to take note of the day that the public holidays fall on.
You may be planning for a holiday with your friends and family, so including public holidays can help extend your days away from work.
By strategically scheduling your leave around public holidays in Hong Kong that fall on a weekday or close to weekends, you can create consecutive vacation days and longer leave days and longer breaks with fewer annual leaves used.
For example, if there's a public holiday on a Monday, you could take the Friday before as annual leave and create a long weekend. If the public holiday falls on a Tuesday, you could apply for leave on Monday and Wednesday to create a 5-day break using just 2 days of your annual leave entitlement.
Or, if there's a public holiday on a Tuesday, you could take the Monday and Wednesday off and create a five-day break using just two days of your annual leave entitlements.
Here are the public holidays in Hong Kong that fall on a Monday, Friday or weekends (for in-lieu) in 2024.
- New Year’s Day
- Lunar New Year
- Good Friday
- Easter Monday
- Tuen Ng Festival
- HKSAR Establishment Day
- Chung Yeung Festival
You can create more time for your family or yourself throughout the year by being smart with planning your annual leave around public holidays.
3. spending time doing the things you like, or nothing at all
One of the best ways to make use of annual leave days is to spend time doing the things that bring you joy. You can use your annual leave to pursue personal goals or activities that you don't have time for during your regular work week. This could be anything from learning a new skill or taking up a hobby to volunteering or travelling.
Going on a trip, either abroad or within your own country, allows you to make new memories and appreciate life outside of your typical routines. You can take the time to explore new possibilities and perspectives, as well as explore vacation activities. Above all, it gives you a chance to learn about yourselves and understand what makes you happy and satisfied.
You can also use your annual leave days to pamper yourself with that spa treatment that you’ve had on your mind for the longest time or going on a fun-filled shopping spree with your friends.
If you just want to take a break after completing a big project, you can use your annual leave to sleep in, bake your favourite cake, play a game or just watch a reality show on Netflix. Your annual leave is your entitlement, and you have the freedom to use it for whatever that brings you happiness.
4. plan ahead to make necessary arrangements
Planning your annual leave days early in the year is one of the most stress-free annual leave hacks to make the most out of your days off. Rather than leaving everything to the last minute, you can plan your leave ahead and know that you have something exciting to look forward to.
Having a good plan also eliminates any stress at work. You can submit your leave application early in the year and you don’t need to worry about working when you’re away. Planning ahead also means preparing a detailed vacation handover list to your team with tasks that are equally distributed so that they can continue working on the project while you’re away.
While it is important to prioritise your mental health, try to refrain from scheduling your time off during busy periods to avoid creating extra work for your colleagues.
When you put in effort in planning early, it will pay off in more fulfilling vacations down the line!
5. disconnect from work
Annual leave is a valuable benefit that provides employees with a much-needed break from work. When it is planned right, you won’t feel that you need “a vacation from the vacation”.
To be able to fully recharge during your annual leave, you’ll need to disconnect from work as much as possible. This means avoid reading emails, taking calls or doing work during your time off. By disconnecting yourself from work, you’ll be able to fully relax and recharge so that you’ll feel more energised and prepared when you return to work.
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One of the worst things that could happen at work is that your annual leave application is denied for no reason by your boss, except that they want you to continue working so that the team can meet deadlines.
If you feel that you can never catch a break at work, even during the holiday season, perhaps it’s time for a change! Find an employer that genuinely cares about your well-being and health, and most importantly, let you take a break once in a while.
Get in touch with our dedicated team of specialised consultants who’ll let you in on companies that offer the most competitive annual leave packages. Alternatively, if you’re looking for a career change you can check out our job listings or let us know what you’re looking for in your next career move.