Four million workers in the UK are not taking all of their holiday allowance either deliberately or because they do not know how many days they are entitled to, according to new research.

Around a fifth of workers choose not to take their entitlement, with the top reason being because work is too busy (34%).

Almost three quarters (22%) of workers will only use holiday if they go away on holiday, but 21% say they don't feel the need to have a break from work, according to the study by Direct Line Travel Insurance.

The study highlights how workers in Britain find getting the balance right between work and family is difficult, and in today’s busy society it can be hard to find the time to reassess lifestyles.

Tom Bishop, head of travel insurance at Direct Line, said: “We are a very hardworking nation, but need to remember the importance of taking time out of our busy day to day lives to rest, relax and recuperate.

“Hard working Brits should try to use their holiday allowance each year, especially as many organisations have a 'use it or lose it' policy. Our holiday allowance shouldn't be seen as a luxury, but as a necessity and something to be looked forward to.”

Men are more likely for not taking their vacation days than women, with 14% compared to 11% who fail to take full advantage of their downtime, said the study.

One in five workers are limited as to when they can take their time off by their employer, with one in ten not able to use their allowance because of other colleagues being away.

The majority (78%) plan to use it for a personal holiday, while more than half (55%) will use the time to visit family.

The study also found that a fifth (20%) of those working in IT and telecoms don't use their full allowance compared to just eight per cent of those employed in manufacturing.

A recent study by Indiana University Kelley School of Business, which explored the amount of work, time pressures, responsibility and concentration demands of a job, found that time poor, stressful careers, such as frontline service jobs, manufacturing, construction and entry level service jobs were linked to higher deaths.

In contrast, agricultural workers who experienced higher freedom and less stress experience 'really low' death rates.

Long work hours, colleague expectations and the desire to progress can all have a detrimental effect on an employee’s health and wellbeing. However getting the balance right can lead to an increase in productivity, motivation to succeed, better workplace cultures and a happier family lifestyle, according to AXA PPP healthcare.

If you find out you might be suffering from an out-of-kilter work-life balance, these five practical steps by psychological health expert Eugene Farrell will help you get back on track:

  1. Prioritise work tasks rigidly and stick to doing the most important first.
  1. Schedule work into the day in time slots as you would with meeting appointments and work to that time.
  1. Take regular breaks, get up every hour and walk. Go and get some water or a drink and return to your work refreshed.
  1. Ensure you take a proper lunch break away from your desk where you can eat and drink.
  1. Take all of your annual leave each year, with a least one full week, and preferably disconnect from work once a quarter.
  1. Use out of office message and a nominated cover when you are away from work so that you don’t have to check emails all the time.
  1. Understand your limitations of work that you can successfully and reasonably achieve.
  1. If you feel uneasy about saying no to more work from your manager then negotiate taking on the work whilst delaying something else.
  1. Being fit for work is as important as work – get good sleep, eat healthily, exercise, spend time with family and friends.
  1. If you are a leader of people, set the example and send the right message.