Duvet Days at Workplaces

A duvet day is when a business agrees employees can take off without advance notice. It is a risk for small business with thin staff. Know the law & rights.
  • Author: Siva
  • Last updated: November 4, 2022
  • 5 Minutes
duvet days or unmotivated days at workplaces explained for small and medium businesses in the UK by Papershift

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We all know that duvet day feeling. It’s when you just can’t seem to get the required motivation to move and would prefer to shut off the alarm, turn over and go back to sleep.

Often when employees feel like this, they will call in sick, even though there’s nothing wrong with them. To avoid this, many companies have formalised duvet days into a perk for their staff. 

But what exactly are duvet days and how can a business embrace them?

Read on to find out more.

What is a duvet day?

Definition 'Duvet Leave'
A duvet day is a day that an organisation agrees employees can take off without advance notice. Duvet days are built into the company policy or holiday allowance and can be taken whenever the employee wants a day off.

As such duvet days are taken when an employee isn’t sick and hasn’t already requested annual leave. 

Duvet days aren’t universally popular. Some employers say they increase idleness and a lack of responsibility for overindulgence the night before, setting a precedent which can all-too-easily become a workplace norm.

How does an employee request a duvet day?

In most cases, the employee will contact their employer to advise that they are taking a duvet day. If this is something the business offers, there’s no requirement for them to give any sort of excuse for wanting the day off.

What are the benefits of having duvet days for businesses?

The idea behind duvet days is that they reduce the number of sick days taken, especially those where the employee isn’t really sick, but rather “pulling a sickie”. Here are a few benefits of having a duvet day policy within your company:

They are attractive to potential staff

Duvet days can be an attractive benefit to employees and can be added to your company’s benefits package to entice employees to come and work for you. If your industry is particularly competitive, or you suffer from a shortage of certain skills, then this may be just the kind of incentive that will draw potential staff to come and work for you.

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They can improve productivity

Some employers have noted that duvet days have enhanced productivity in their business. This is often because staff feel that they are being looked after and treated with respect. They’re being allowed to decide if they don’t want to work that day rather than having to call in and pretend to be sick or somehow otherwise justify their need for leave.

It fosters a culture of honesty within the business

Instead of calling in and having to make up an excuse for being off, employee duvet day allows them to be decent and honest. Equally, if an employee is simply not in the right frame of mind to come into work, it could be argued that they are better staying off anyway.

It shows that you value your employee’s wellbeing

If you offer your employees duvet days, you’ll send a strong message that you trust them and that you genuinely value their well-being.

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Are duvet days always a good idea?

Not always, no. Duvet days might not be right for your organisation. There could be other ways that you choose to look after your team’s well-being and boost productivity, like early-finish Fridays, flexible working or employee reward programmes. Here are a few negatives to think about

It provokes employee laziness

One school of thought holds that the duvet day simply pander to employee laziness. We all occasionally yearn to just stay in bed, but if we don’t have the luxury of duvet days, then we have to fight those urges and get up and go into work.

It has a negative impact on business

Then there’s the impact on the business that duvet days have. If an employee simply decides not to show up for work one day, you’ve got yourself a case of unauthorized absence on your hands. And like all types of absenteeism, unauthorized absences can be terrible for business.

It paints a bad picture of the culture of your business

The real thing that should give cause for concern about duvet days is what they say about your workplace culture. Obviously, no job is perfect, and nobody can be bright-eyed and enthusiastic about work 100% of the time. And nobody likes cold and wet mornings. If your employees absolutely dread coming to work, then something’s seriously wrong and you need to address the culture within your workplace first before offering convenient ways out for staff.

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How do I incorporate duvet days within my business?

If you think offering duvet days would be beneficial to your organisation, then you should provision for these in your company policy documents. You could also add them to employee contracts but be aware if you do that it will be harder to rescind them if you decided they are not benefitting your employees or company. Implementing duvet days by way of policy provides a way of ‘testing the water’ which will allow you to monitor how often they are requested and the impact they have on your business. 

If you do decide to offer duvet days, here are a few things to consider:

Think about how many duvet days you want to offer

The first thing you will need to decide as a business who is looking to offer duvet days is how many will be provided to employees. Many companies who do make them available, offer a limited number, often one or two per year. Make sure these are written up in policy documents or contracts as appropriate. 

Specify when duvet days can be taken

You may also need to specify times of the year or days of the week when duvet days cannot be taken. Perhaps there are times when the uncertainty of whether or not staff will be in could cause too much disruption to your business. Many companies will stop duvet days after major sporting events or other occasions, so that they are not suddenly understaffed.

In conclusion

Duvet days are a useful tool for businesses to foster a positive culture in the workplace. But they are easily misused or poorly implemented.

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Written by Siva

I write & describe the value & benefits delivered by Paperhift's rota planning, staff time tracking, and employee payroll management software. Especially useful for Shift Planners, Rota Managers, Team Admins, and HR Teams :-)