Sick Leave for Workers’ (Mental) Health

Research from Gusto suggests a 42% increase in sick leave usage from 2019 to 2023, most notably among workers aged 25–34. Moreover, the amount of time off taken by those claiming sick leave is up 15% (an average of 15.5 hours per year). Amidst the uptick, some companies are experimenting with new initiatives. Regex SEO offers two mental health days per month. Emburse has a “take-what-you-need” PTO policy, which allows for up to three consecutive days of sick leave before requiring a physician’s note, in addition to various other anti-burnout measures.

Business Takeaway: The debate has been ongoing for years now about a more “liberal” approach to sick leave (e.g., mental health days) vs. the perceived abuse of sick leave (and its effect on both workplace morale and productivity). On the one hand, increased sick leave usage may be a direct effect of pandemic-era policies encouraging employees to stay home if sick. On the other, the increase in sick leave usage comes as a bit of surprise in light of the fact remote work is now a common option. What are you seeing and experiencing in this regard?