Personal Days: Why Are They Important?

“Personal Days” can be a tricky topic for Canadian employers to understand. While “sick days” and “vacation days” are fairly self-explanatory, personal days are less so. Each province has its regulations for various types of paid and unpaid days (sick days, family responsibility, bereavement, etc.) away from the workplace.

Keep in mind however that the provinces only set minimums. Employers certainly can (and we will argue they should) grant more time than this, and if the company budget allows, these days can even be paid.

What is a “personal day”?

For this article, we are defining a personal day as time off (paid or unpaid) that an employee takes for reasons other than vacation or personal illness. This might include taking a day to move, an extended medical appointment, taking care of a sick child, bereavement, or a mental health day.

Of the reasons listed above, the mental health day is the most controversial because of the perceived potential for abuse by employees who simply don’t feel like coming into work that day. Nevertheless, when employers cultivate a culture that supports mental well-being and values mental health days as a valid reason for taking a personal day, it not only promotes a healthier workplace but it can improve a company’s bottom line as well. A large study commissioned by PWC supports this, saying that for every dollar a company invests in a mentally healthy workplace, they see an average return of $2.30.

The problem with presenteeism.

In previous blogs, we have discussed absenteeism quite a bit, and it is easy for most employers to understand how employee absenteeism can hurt their business. What they may be less aware of are the damaging effects that presenteeism can have. Presenteeism is when employees come into work even though they are feeling physically, mentally, or emotionally unwell. Employees may feel guilty about taking a personal or sick day or they may be fearful that doing so may jeopardize their job or chances of promotion.

While it may not sound like a big problem on the surface, researchers have found that presenteeism in the long term is three times more costly than absenteeism. Not only are employees less productive while they are at work, but showing up when they are unwell often leads to more long-term and costly problems such as chronic pain, depression, and even cancer and heart disease – problems which inevitably raise the insurance premiums of the employer.

Fostering a workplace culture that supports employees taking personal days.

It is often difficult for employers to know exactly where to start when it comes to fostering a culture that supports employee personal days. Having a workplace policy is a place to start, but communication and leading by example need to play into the equation.

At TeksMed, we are experienced in helping employers develop programs that are tailored to fit the needs of their company and we can help provide you with strategies on promoting a physically and mentally healthy workplace.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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