2.5 million UK workers1 have taken at least two months away from the office simply to take a break, according to new findings from the Modern Life Report by Fidelity International.
When asked if people had ever spent over two months out of work, over a third (35%) of Britain’s workforce revealed they had. Of this, 2.5 million workers (22%) say they were out of work simply because they wanted a break, while 20% wanted to travel and 18% for maternity leave. However, for some, the decision was out of their hands, with a third (31%) of workers having been forced out by illness and over a quarter (27%) could not find a job.
It’s millennials that are most likely to down tools with 46% of 18-34-year-old workers, who have taken an extended period off work, having done so to take a break and two fifths (42%) travelled the world. There is a clear desire for flexibility so workers can test the waters; one in six (16%) who have taken time off to try a potential new career, 13% to pursue a hobby or interest and 10% to volunteer.
The conversation around flexible working continues to gain momentum as more companies trial four day working weeks and a savvy workforce demands greater freedom from their employer. One fifth (18%) of workers believe that being able to take an extended period of leave is vital to achieving a good work-life balance and this increases to a quarter (24%) amongst those aged 18-34. Over 55% of people believe being able to work flexibly is important for their work-life balance as well as having time to focus on other interests (46%).
Tom Stevenson, investment director for personal investing at Fidelity International said:
“Our relationship with work is changing. The old idea of a fairly even split between childhood and education, work and retirement no longer reflects how we are living our lives. Sometimes a new reality is forced on people by redundancy or illness, but for a growing number, a more flexible approach to work is a positive choice. Never before have we enjoyed such a range of options for how, where and when to earn a living.
“Technology is one key area of change. Many office-based workers can now work as effectively from home as in a traditional workplace. Indeed, many employers are increasingly encouraging people to do at least part of the week out of the office.
“The speed of change is another factor. What we needed to know at the start of our career will more than likely be obsolete at the end of it or even just a decade or two later. Retraining or simply a change of direction is the reality for many. Those mid-career changes open up the opportunity for breaks along the way, perhaps to travel, to study or to care for a family member.”