It's official: The UK's construction industry is the hardest working profession out there. A holiday provider by the name of Sunshine has published a report, and its results are a real eye-opener. According to their findings, Britain's construction workers are simply too busy to take off the paid holidays they're entitled to. The survey covered well over 3,000 people in industries ranging from healthcare to hairdressing. Workers were asked how much of their paid annual leave they were taking each year, and it turns out a lot of them are missing out.

At the low end were industries like marketing, journalism and retail, all of which were taking 10 days or fewer off on average. On the other hand, workers in the beauty, travel and recruitment sectors are apparently swanning off for 30 days or more!

The single lowest number of paid days off taken, however, comes from the construction industry. In the UK, almost everyone in employment is entitled to 5.6 weeks of paid holiday per year. The government calls this statutory entitlement, or simply "annual leave". For people working standard 5-day weeks, this stacks up to 28 days. For part-time workers, obviously enough, those 5.6 weeks add up to fewer days in total. Either way, construction workers are taking much less than their annual allotment, with a staggering average of just 4 days off a year! Compare that figure with the hair and beauty sector's 35 days and you can see there's definitely something going on here.

For industries where people weren't taking the leave they're owed, the biggest reason seems to be workload.

  • 86% of them said they just felt they were too busy to afford the time off.
  • 4% was the tiny number who said they simply didn't want the holidays.

From the outside looking in, a lot of people are having a hard time understanding why you wouldn't take paid leave you'd earned. Construction is tough, physically strenuous work, after all. However, when you're working under a strict deadline or racing the weather, little luxuries like days off can be the first to go. 

As more construction workers go self-employed under the CIS scheme that means no holiday pay and many people just can't afford to have several weeks unpaid - especially with losing 20% in tax and not being able to claim a refund until the end of the year. Many people are also missing out on a lot of what they could claim back.

In some ways, the industry is right to be proud of its hard-working reputation. The ability to complete difficult, often dangerous jobs on time is the cornerstone of British construction. However, workers' health is a serious issue, and it might not be getting the attention it deserves. If you're in a demanding job, that's all the more reason to take a step back from time to time.

It's also a fantastic way to spend your yearly tax rebate from HMRC. After all, an average 1-year travel refund can easily come to £800 or more if you're PAYE or £2,000 if you're CIS. You can claim for the last 4 tax years as well, so many people's first claim can be over £3,000.

You might be hard-pressed to blow all that if you're only taking 4 days off to spend it!