Sick, compassionate and annual; these are some of the standard leave allowances we’re entitled to by law. But Amantha Imber, founder of Inventium–a Melbourne based consultancy firm–believes we deserve more. Much more, in fact. She has just offered her staff unlimited, uncapped paid leave, the first company of its kind to do so in Australia. Her reasoning is thus: if your contract dictates you take four weeks annual leave and work a 38 hour week, you’re probably getting a raw end of the deal because while our leave is capped, our working hours certainly aren’t.
“This situation–the inequity between what workplaces in Australia are legally obliged to do and what happens in reality–really felt wrong,” Amantha explains, adding that she is urging her employees to use what she has dubbed ‘Rebalance Leave’ to prioritise their health and families. While the rest of us mightn’t be so lucky, here are a few extra days we’d love our employers to incorporate into their leave policies:
Following the sudden death of her husband Dave Goldberg, Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg understandably struggled to cope, finding some solace in the support the tech company offered her post-loss. Today, backed by Sheryl, the company announced an additional 10 days leave to Facebook employees struggling with the loss of a loved one, taking the total to 20 days, where most companies offer a standard 2-3 days.
“Amid the nightmare of Dave’s death when my kids needed me more than ever, I was grateful every day to work for a company that provides bereavement leave and flexibility,” Sheryl explained on Facebook today. “I needed both to start my recovery.”
Outdoor outfitter REI give their staff two Yay Days per year, to be spent embracing their passion for the great outdoors. Employees have previously used their paid days off to go snowboarding, kayaking, build trails and even run marathons. The only thing they have to do in return is document their escapades on social media. Deal!
British supermarket chain ASDA introduced a scheme in 2000 that allows grandparents seven days worth of leave following the arrival of a grandchild, and up to three months unpaid leave if they want to help at home. The head of colleague relations Marie Gill said at the time: “We’re looking for ways to help our colleagues balance the commitments of home and work life.”
Mental Health Day
If you felt physically unwell, you wouldn’t think twice about calling in sick. But what if you felt mentally unable to go to work? With one in five Australians experiencing mental health issues within any given year, having a valid leave entitlement in place has never been more necessary. In fact, Mental Health Days are so beneficial to our wellbeing that some medical experts advise that we take up to three days per year in order to maintain our performance and productivity.
In their effort to show that they care about their employees, software maker Qlik Technologies offer one “24-For-U” day per year, where the focus is on staff self-improvement. While one employee once used the paid leave to study documentary film, another learnt all about running a Christmas tree farm.
Ferris Bueller Day
OK, you’re not sick, stressed or hung over. You’re not keen on embracing the outdoors and you don’t feel like any self-development today thanks… but you still fancy a bit of down time. What do you do? You take a Ferris Bueller Day, of course! While we’re seeing a steady rise in employers offering paid days off to indulge in a bit of ‘me time’ over in the states (LinkedIn employees are given monthly ‘InDays’ in addition to annual leave), Waterford Research Institute LLC give staff two Ferris Bueller days per year, named so after the famous Mathew Broderick film where a kid wags school for the day.
If you overdid it the night before and can’t face work but feel bad about chucking a sickie, you need a Doona Day. Already common in the States and the UK, a Doona (or Duvet) Day differs from annual leave as you can take them at very short notice. Reed recruitment, for example, has two such days written into employee contracts. Depending on the workplace, Doona Days are often taken out of your overall annual leave entitlement, which means they benefit employers by reducing sick days.