Almost a third of young people seeking to enter the professions believe they will be expected to work over their Christmas break, a survey has found. 

The poll of more than 500 students and graduates found 30% believe they would be expected to check and respond to emails while on holiday, with a higher proportion (35%) among those aspiring to a career in the law. 

Half expect they will have to check emails outside of the working week and 27% expect to receive phone calls over the weekend. Three-quarters are concerned about meeting the expectations of a new employer. 

The research was collected by the City Mental Health Alliance, a network of City firms set up to eradicate the stigma of mental health in the workplace, improve mental health literacy and identify practical steps that businesses can take to create healthy workplaces where employees flourish. Its members include the law firms Hogan Lovells, Allen & Overy and Slaughter and May. 

Poppy Jaman, chief executive of the alliance, said new starters are worried from the outset about meeting expectations and many believe they must be ‘always on’ to satisfy their bosses. 

‘Senior leaders and managers can help to promote mentally healthy workplaces by demonstrating healthy behaviours such as using their own annual leave and actively encouraging others to do the same.’ said Jaman.  

‘Annual leave or free time at the weekend should not be viewed as a dispensable luxury and with the Christmas break fast approaching, employers should help their employees feel that they can switch off from work in order to fully recharge.’ 

Nick Syson, partner at Linklaters, said the firm has started induction sessions for trainees to help them be mindful of their mental wellbeing.  ‘We recognise the pressures new trainees can face when starting a training contract and as they transition into the world of work. It’s important they don’t burn out and use their personal time to switch off from work commitments.’