High Days and Holidays!


An important part of our role as beauty, cosmetic and personal care recruitment consultants is to help negotiate contracts. We recruit at every level and across all sectors of the industry and at every level from grads to senior execs, and recognise that holiday allowance is an important part of any job offer. Your company’s approach to holiday time can tell candidates a lot about its culture and flexibility.


The UK’s eight public holidays, or Bank Holidays, date back centuries to religious festivals and agricultural holidays. Recognised by Parliament in 1871 they weren’t public holidays but days when banks were closed for trading while bankers got their books in order.

In addition to Bank Holidays, full time UK employees are entitled to a minimum of 20 days paid statutory holiday entitlement  each year. Companies often offer more or increase holiday allowance with length of service or promotion. The Arthur Edward Salary Survey 2018/19 revealed that 49% of respondents have 21-25 leave days, in addition to Bank Holidays.


There are 10 Federal Holidays in the USA and most companies offer 15 days paid annual leave in total, with the average taken at 14. In fact, the USA is the only advanced economy in the world that does not have a minimum statutory annual leave allowance. It’s quite unusual for American employees to take 2 consecutive weeks off, while in other countries a 2-week summer break is considered normal.

While we all look forward to our holiday time, we seem to feel a commitment to our colleagues, clients, suppliers and the responsibilities we leave behind. Perhaps this feeling is stronger in South Korea, where most workers take only 7 of their 15 days allowance, and in Japan, where most take only 10 of their 20. This seems very strange to Europeans in France, Spain and Germany, where the majority make full use of the 30 days annual leave on offer.


Very few of us start at 9am on the dot and sign-off at 5pm or stick to our exact working hours. We check our emails first thing in the morning and last thing at night, on the commute and even at weekends. Increasingly, we work across global markets where someone is always working, wanting answers. So is it wrong to take a few hours out of the day to visit a friend, watch your child’s assembly or even pop to the dentist? Is it not more relevant to focus on what gets done, what KPI’s, sales or profit is achieved?

Some companies are taking a whole new approach and tearing up the holiday rule book. Staff are allowed unlimited holiday time, with total flexibility and no one tracking days off. It’s a grown-up policy that some companies and employees aren’t ready for. Employees are asked to act in the company’s best interest at all times. Mediocracy or taking advantage is simply not tolerated. With freedom comes responsibility, and staff must rise to it or leave.

Other companies are making step changes, like allowing their staff unplanned ‘duvet days’. They focus on team energy and productivity rather than hours clocked each week.

While this flexibility sounds wonderful, it’s not open to all areas of the cosmetic and personal care industry. While a Brand Manager or National Account Manager can work at their convenience, a Formulation Chemist or Quality Manager is restricted to their Lab or Manufacturer’s working hours.

Personnel Today reported that 23% of UK workers regularly check emails on holiday and 15% continue doing some work to avoid being behind on their return or missing targets. So maybe it’s time to give workers the chance to work and play hard, to recharge and reenergise, by encouraging responsibility and freedom.


Only time will tell if this is a recipe for disaster, with employees becoming less productive, or a responsible approach to the way we all work today, more attuned to the self-motivated and self-disciplined workplace. As with most innovations, all eyes are on the early adopters so we can learn from their successes and failures.