Still gazing at the prairies and reading the other pages of (generally) dire economic news in The Globe, I had to ask: can we afford such generous holidays any more? Specifically, can British universities afford to spend up to 10 per cent of their entire income (increasingly, student derived) on…staff holidays? Will our students, many working right through the summer if they’re lucky, see this as good value for money for their growing debt ledger? And looking further afield, and keeping in mind those hard-working Canadians, can we be competitive with countries that work longer or harder, or both longer and harder?
Then again, what about well-being? I thought back to the reasons why I had eschewed long summer holidays: to let families go on holiday together. After all, lack of vacation time can damage relationships, alienate seldom-seen children and lead to injuries and errors at work. But is there real evidence that the Lithuanians, French, Finns or Russians, with eight weeks of holiday, or the British with seven, are more “well” than the Canadians or the Americans on closer to four (or even as little as two weeks for more junior employees)?
I suspect that holidays, like pensions and pay, will soon be yet another area of diminishing entitlement. In a more competitive academic world, as we teach more accelerated courses and seek year-round usage of expensive estate, those holidays will be seen as an indulgence – an inconvenience – not just in the UK but also across continental Europe.
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