Duvet Days and Flexible Working

As flexible working becomes more commonplace, new trends are emerging in terms of absence management. 

Employers are embracing change. Working from home, flexible working, job-sharing or working part time are all relatively recent developments in the modern workplace. As businesses battle to attract talented employees, some firms have started offering duvet days and hangover days too. 

A duvet day is widely understood to be an unscheduled day off taken for an unspecified reason. This can be helpful for employees who are stressed due to heavy workloads and are in need of a break, in order to recharge. 

A more recent trend is the hangover day. About 84% of official workplace social events involve alcohol, according to research carried out for the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. It is no surprise that the hangover trend is becoming more popular as it allows staff members to work remotely or just take a day off, if they are feeling tired the morning after a night out. 

Recent press coverage saw one firm introduce such a policy in order to offer something different to “younger millennials who typically go out midweek”. 

Focusing on flexible working through offering hangover days is really positive as long as employers do it in a way that isn’t seen to encourage heavy drinking. This would be at odds with an employer’s duty to safeguard the health and well being of staff. Such a policy should also be set in a way that doesn’t discriminate against certain groups of employees. 

On the other side, employers that introduce policies around duvet days, hangover days or flexible days off, could be seen as more forward thinking businesses. 

The CIPD estimates that 140,000 people go to work each day with a hangover, costing the employers £6.4bn a year in lost productivity. Introducing a policy such as this would encourage employees to maximise their productivity while supporting their need to enjoy life outside of work. Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS) halved their number of sick days and raised their service level by 93%. 

Finally, any business that introduces these policies should consider how they will manage the number of random days off each employee can take. HBOS allows a maximum of 30 out of their 650-plus employees to take duvet days on any one day. Flexibility is a good thing but it is necessary to set such parameters in order to ensure employees are productive and to ensure the business doesn’t get taken advantage of.

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