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We’re not robots (not yet, anyway), so it’s reasonable to expect that we all need some time off. Some employers supplement the statutory 28-day annual leave with additional time off in the form of extended paternity leave, having time off on your birthday, or to move house.

Now that mental health is increasingly being acknowledged in the workplace there are also more employers who are prepared to offer mental health days to their staff. Welcome to the rise of the duvet day.

What is a duvet day?

A duvet day is quite literally that – a day where you just need to stay wrapped up under your duvet and not have to worry about work.

Perhaps you had a terrible night’s sleep, or maybe your mood is starting to crash. Whatever the reason, a duvet day allows a member of staff to say they aren’t coming in that day, and not have to explain why.

Mental health days are basically a form of ad hoc annual leave which doesn’t require a doctor’s note or any real advance warning. It’s a popular HR tactic designed to bridge the gap between official annual leave, versus employees calling in sick.

How many mental health days should I offer to employees?

Businesses which have actioned ‘extra-curricular’ leave typically offering employees 2-3 duvet days a year which can be built into their statutory annual allowance or as an additional extra.

Are mental health wellness days a good idea for staff?

Duvet days essentially formalise that can sometimes strike us all, regardless of how much we love our job or like our employer. It’s that feeling of ‘nope’ when you just can’t deal with other humans.

OK, sick leave is in place to accommodate physical ailments as well as mental health issues, but sometimes you don’t need anything that… paperworky.
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Mental health days are gaining popularity as part of business’ sick leave policies to foster more sensitive and inclusive working environments. An employee who feels their mood is degenerating can utilise a duvet day as leave from work when they don’t feel well enough to attend.

Things to consider about offering duvet days

Sadly, not every business is able to offer this type of leave. A tiny team or the nature of the work might make it impossible, or at least inappropriate. For those employers that do offer mental health days to staff, you’ll also need to think about some ground rules for using leave in this way.

This might be requirements for being notified by a cut-off point, or an understanding about other team members being available, as well as the importance of maintaining deadlines and client services.

When resources are limited, offering things like duvet days might be a luxury you just can’t afford and that’s okay too. It’s all about finding what works for you and your workforce.

So, overall what are the benefits of offering additional annual leave?

The main advantage is the attraction and retention of great staff. A study carried out by CV Library found that 37% of employees see extra holiday as the most desirable perk, so if you want to appeal to the talent of today, this could be an essential part of your toolkit.

Then, of course, is the not insignificant aspect of a happier, healthier workforce who feel appreciated and well-rested. This combination is crucial when it comes to boosting things like productivity, efficiency, communication and morale among staff.

Our advice

If this sounds like something you might want to offer your workforce as a job perk, make sure you’ve got some watertight policies in place and be specific about:

What are your thoughts on the topic? Are you a business owner who is thinking about implementing extra-curricular annual leave to better support staff? Are you an employee who regularly benefits from a duvet day or mental wellness break? We want to hear from you!

About The Author

Stephanie Whalley

Serial snacker, compulsive cocktail sipper and full time wordsmith with a penchant for alliteration, all things marketing and pineapple on pizza.

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