While Captain Scott battled diminishing rations, inadequate clothing and a leaky ship, today’s polar explorers have it somewhat better.
British Antarctic Survey (BAS) staff enjoy a raft of perks, including 30 days annual leave and a defined benefit pension scheme, plus state-of-the-art bases equipped with on-site gyms and chefs. Fiona Brazil, head of personnel, says its holiday entitlement helps keep staff in the right frame of mind. “It’s a vital part of employee engagement. It’s a busy and demanding job, so it’s important to make sure staff are rested and have a good work-life balance.”
Some 200 BAS employees are based in its Cambridge headquarters, while a further 300 are out in the field. Holiday varies according to role. Cambridge-based staff, for example, receive 30 days per year, although workers don’t accrue formal leave while stationed in the Antarctic. They clock up 30 days pro rata while training in the UK and are entitled to 10 days leave before they set off for an expedition. Staff still accrue leave at the full-time rate while on maternity leave.
Brazil believes employers should plan for staff taking leave in advance. “You need to make sure there are fair arrangements for cover over popular times, so the same people don’t always draw the short straw.”