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No more ‘sickies’ – it’s ‘duvet days’ to the rescue!


After the struggle to get back to work we reported on yesterday, several newspapers are today highlighting the American practice of allocating 'duvet days', which could soon see off the British tradition of 'throwing a sickie'.

In the latest idea in employee benefits from the US, employees are given up to four days off a year built into existing annual holiday entitlement, which they can use at short notice to recover from overindulgence the night before, or if they simply can't face getting out of bed (hence the title 'duvet days'). The system means that workers in the US can legitimately take the day off, avoiding the temptation to 'ring in sick' with poor excuses, something which a recent CIPD survey found is plaguing the workplace in the UK.

By including the number of days within annual leave entitlement, the scheme does not require any extra commitment from organisations, and employees continue to see the days as an added bonus because they don't have to be booked in advance.

Speaking to the Evening Standard, Sarah Parsons, head of communications at recruitment company Reed, says that the concept would fit well with the increasing need to provide competitive benefits packages in the UK owing to skills shortages: 'Alongside better health and pension benefits, companies now offer employees increased holiday entitlement, gym membership and even subscriptions to dating services. Duvet days are the latest in a list of 'employee-focused' benefits.'

There are of course potential problems with the scheme. Parsons warns that for some organisations, the idea of taking leave at short notice will not work in practice, while other employees may be reluctant to cover work responsibilities while their colleague is at home spending the day in bed.



3 Responses

  1. UK workers get more holiday than US workers
    Sorry, my last email went wrong.

    UK workers have a minimum entitlement of 20 days whereas my understanding of the US is that worker often have to put up with far less. It is not surprising that they should try and increase this by duvet days but the UK employee fares far better in any event.

  2. if people are paid to do a job…
    I had an argument with colleagues about this the other day. I didn’t realise that the practice is to include the ‘duvet day’ within the normal holiday entitlement, which does make a difference – but as someone who has never had the courage to throw a sickie, I have always held the belief that, if one is paid to work then one should turn up (or take the supposed ‘duvet day’ out of holiday allowance). Maybe I’m a stuffy old thing, but whatever happened to professional integrity?

  3. Duvet days — I think you’ve been had.
    As a Brit running a company in the US, I have a couple of observations:
    1) “Duvet days” is a catchy term, but I’ve never heard it here in the US. I suspect it originated in the UK. Most Americans probably could not even pronounce the word “duvet” let alone define it(it’s a “comforter” here).
    2) Providing a maximum number of paid sick-days is helpful because otherwise, in America, a few days in bed with the flu is deducted from annual holiday allowance. That would be onerous because even senior people here typically get only 10 days of holiday a year. In places like Germany or Switzerland where annual paid leave is more typically 30 days there is little justification for additional sickness allowance.
    3) In the UK, where annual leave is generous and “sick days” are already additional paid leave, it’s odd that companies would formalise “duvet days” simply to ease employee consciences. What’s next: “pub hours” for all those extended alcoholic lunchbreaks?


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