ASK THE GURUS ARE DUVET DAYS ACCEPTABLE?

Steve Leeson
Operations Director, Financial Services, Morgan McKinley

If you take unapproved “duvet days”, bear in mind that you run the risk of damaging your reputation. Earning the label of “work-shy” or “skiver” can seriously affect how you are viewed by your colleagues and may harm your long term career prospects. There are more effective ways of achieving work/life balance, such as planning days off in advance and maintaining an open dialogue with your manager. Communicating any stress or workload related issues you might be having is important. A supportive and flexible employer will take action to resolve your issue, so that you won’t have to resort to absenteeism.

Naylah Hamour
Solicitor at City law firm Howard Kennedy

From the employer’s point of view, duvet days are unauthorised leave, disguised as sick leave. Employers shy away from accusations of fabricated sickness, but they can take steps to minimise duvet days. Back to work interviews – having to explain your absence to a manager – may be a disincentive. Or you can change the sick-pay regime: if you have a set number of days per year that can be taken as paid sick days, employees may view it as an “allowance” to be taken. You can also track absences on Mondays or Fridays, or use the Bradford factor – a system that analyses the damage caused by absences. Finally, you can discipline employees who have unacceptable levels of absence.

Ceri Roderick
Psychologist at Pearn Kandola

Most large organisations monitor absenteeism as a way of detecting problems: usually problems with the way people are managed. If you feel you need a duvet day, you should ask yourself why. There are many potential sources of job dissatisfaction, some passive – for example, boring repetitive work – and some active – for example, a stressful work load or a harassing boss. Everyone I have talked to over the years has with hindsight bitterly regreted tolerating this kind of work situation. So, analyse your situation, draw up a balance sheet of pros and cons and then consider the factors that you have some control over. Just living with it will usually be your worst option.