About this research project

Leaveism is broadly defined as ‘employee responses to feeling unwell or being overloaded’ (Hesketh and Cooper, 2014). Leaveism relates to, but sits outside current understandings of absenteeism and presenteeism More specifically, Hesketh et al. have defined Leaveism (2014, pp. 207-208) as the practice of:

(1) employees utilising allocated time off such as annual leave entitlements, flexi hours banked, re-rostered rest days and so on, to take time off when they are in fact unwell;

(2) employees taking work home that cannot be completed in normal working hours; and

(3) employees working whilst on leave or holiday to catch up.

Leaveism is associated with a negative impact on employee mental health (Hesketh et al., 2015) and employee-related productivity problems (e.g. Gerich, 2015; Miller, 2016), although research based on more privileged experiences of employment, indicates Leaveism can also be associated with positive outcomes, such as, employee engagement (Nair, 2016).

Despite Leaveism representing a very new feature of academic literature, HRM practitioners and senior/executive-level managers report high awareness of Leaveism in their organisations. For instance, 37 per cent report employees using allocated time off when unwell, 57 per cent of workplaces report employees working outside contracted hours to get work done, and, 33 per cent report employees using allocated time off, such as holidays, to catch up and keep up with work (CIPD, 2018).

However, while Leaveism has been outlined and divided into helpful constituent features, Leaveism is under-theorised. As such, the research project, via survey and semi-structured interviews, concerns developing a sociological understanding of Leaveism.

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Research details



CIPD (2018). Health and Well-being at Work: Survey Report May 2018. London: CIPD.

Gerich, J. (2015). Leaveism and ill-health related behaviour. Occupational Medicine, Vol. 65, pp. 746-752.

Hesketh, I. and Cooper, C. (2014). Leaveism at work. Occupational Medicine, Vol. 64, pp. 146-147.

Hesketh, I., Cooper, C. and Ivy, J. (2014). Leaveism and public sector reform: Will the practice continue? Journal of Organizational Effectiveness: People and Performance, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 205-212.

Hesketh, I., Cooper, C. and Ivy, J. (2015). Leaveism and work-life integration: The thinning Blue Line? Policing, Vol. 9, No. 2, pp. 183-194.

Nair, L. (2016). Work-life Integration and Leaveism: A Study of Workplace Practices in Business Excellence Award Winning Organisations in the UAE. MBA Dissertation, Middlesex University.