I was making some calls to potential customers in the UK the other day, and I made a tactical blunder. I hadn’t realised that the UK schools were not back from Easter break the same week as the Ireland schools. A lot of the people I was calling were parents taking time off with their families, and not ready to take my call.

An expression I heard a lot was that someone was ‘on annual leave.’ It’s quite an old-fashioned term to my mind. You hear it a lot in the UK but not that much in Ireland. I would just say that I was on holiday, or that I was taking a day’s holiday, not that I was taking a day’s annual leave.

Leave in this sense is quite an old word and it just means permission not to be at working, a leave of absence from the workplace. It got me thinking that there are many uses of annual ‘leave’, not just a holiday away, nor a ‘staycation’. Even though I may be at home getting a few projects done, or taking my child to an appointment, or even attending a funeral, I would still call that a holiday, since it’s a holiday from work, or at least regular paid work.

Of course, another important distinction is that annual leave is paid time away from work for the employee. For the self-employed of course, time away from work is unpaid time.

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