Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

SEE YOU IN SEPTEMBER... with Fewer Deals Being Done in the City and Many Firms Offering Unpaid Leave, Geraldine Bedell Reports on the Rise of the Long Summer Holiday Away from the Office

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

SEE YOU IN SEPTEMBER... with Fewer Deals Being Done in the City and Many Firms Offering Unpaid Leave, Geraldine Bedell Reports on the Rise of the Long Summer Holiday Away from the Office

Article excerpt

LONDON is about to clear off for its longest-ever summer holiday. Millions of us are joining the royal family, MPs and celebrities in taking an extended break from the office; bankers, secretaries, clerks and consultants are becoming the sort of people who, in early July, say, "See you in September!" The big summer slowdown is a surprising consequence of the recession. Not much is happening, so you might as well be on the beach. Even in the City, where 14-hour days have long been the norm, staff are being encouraged to take extra time off. "I've heard of people in a number of banks being encouraged to 'buy' an extra 10 days, sacrificing salary for holiday," says Kate Blake, who works for one of the major financial institu-tions. "The idea is to save jobs and money. In effect it's an eight per cent pay cut but I know lots of people who are doing it."

The more other people are sitting on deckchairs rather than chairs at their desks, the easier it becomes for the rest of us to sneak off. In many sectors, the phone has been ringing less insistently for a few months. My husband travels almost every week of the year, speaking at conferences, but no one holds conferences in August. I long for summer, as my opportunity to remind him what it is he works so hard for (me).

The trend to encourage workers to put up the shutters for a few weeks isn't only a City phenomenon. Honda and BA have both offered time off in lieu of money as a result of recession. KPMG allows its staff to buy up to 10 extra days off a year. A lot of people seem happy with the deal -- and not only because the Tube in July and August is hotter than a Turkish beach. There's a growing sense that extra time with the family (or even yourself ) is preferable to yet more "stuff ".

Some long holidays are, of course, enforced. If you've been looking for a job in the financial-services sector since December, you probably aren't going to find it in August. Rather than make yourself miserable trying, you might as well spend some time rock pooling with the kids (though don't expect to come back to the perfect position in September).

Those who are still employed in Britain tend to work rather hard. …

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