Are you considering duvet days in the wake of St Patrick’s day?

17th March was St Patrick’s Day yesterday and if, like many, you consumed more than your yearly recommended intake of alcohol, you may have cursed your alarm this morning. Of course you have to get up and go to work for 8 hours, the whole time promising yourself that you will never drink like that on a weekday ever again. Some are not so committed and come up with an excuse to stay in bed instead – according to research, 17 million absence days per year can be attributed to alcohol misuse.

The truth is that even if you do get up and go to work with that hangover, you will not be nearly as productive as you would normally be and seeing as you hadn’t planned to feel like this in the morning you didn’t think to book the day off as a holiday. Thank God for ‘Duvet Days’.

‘Duvet days’ is a term that means time off for personal reasons sanctioned by the employer, sometimes also called ‘personal days’. Duvet days can be taken at short notice but they are usually deducted from the employee’s annual leave entitlement so introducing this employee benefit doesn’t mean the company is necessarily allowing employees any more paid time off. Duvet days are a way of allowing employees to use a proportion of their holidays at short notice rather than booking the time off in advance. They were introduced to reduce the number of days lost due to employees ‘pulling sickies’. In effect, it is a measure to ‘legalise sickies’.

In the British parlance, however, the term ‘duvet days’ has become somewhat synonymous with pulling a sickie. Many now use the term for simply staying in bed with minor sniffles – or a hangover – that wouldn’t normally warrant a day off work. And regardless of whether this behaviour is sanctioned by their employer or not.

As we’ve written in the past, employees who pull sickies often suffer from a lack of engagement. Allowing duvet days can increase staff engagement and happiness, which could lead to better staff retention and lower absence levels. On the other hand, not knowing when people are going to take a day off means that you can’t plan cover or plan other holidays. Duvet days as an employee benefit work best if your employee base already has good levels of engagement so that they will not abuse their entitlement. It’s useful to bear in mind that the average employee spends up to three hours per day skiving – an average that is surely pulled up by a population of hung-over employees who are engaged enough to turn up at work but not well enough to add any value!

If you decide to implement a ‘Duvet Days’ entitlement, Engage is an easy way to keep track of how it is used. Or, if you prefer to stick with old-fashioned absence management, Engage will help you identify those who got carried away in the spirit of St Patrick! Try it for free for 30 days.