Is the duvet day something we should all benefit from?

Sunday morning I woke up, threw off the duvet then decided I wasn’t ready to get up yet, despite not being tired, so I grabbed the duvet back and cooried down just enjoying the moment – well about 60 minutes of moments. Later, when I felt ready to start the day, and as I reflected on my relaxed morning (and wrote the first draft of this post) 2 things occurred to me:

  1. This was the first time I took time out for myself without feeling any guilt or needing to justify why I was practicing self-care.
  2. What does it say about life if I needed to take a duvet day to escape from life, giving myself time to unwind.

What is a duvet day?

Some of you (outside of the UK and the US) may be wondering what a duvet day is. The practice first emerged in the UK in 1997 and in a nutshell, it would be a practice where an employer would have duvet days written into the contracts of employment as a benefit. The idea is that rather than taking a “sickie” when you’re not really sick but just don’t want to work, you contact your manager or supervisor to say you’re taking a duvet day. In some organisations your duvet day would be deducted from your holiday entitlement, but for others, its an additional entitlement, but whatever the arrangement you are likely to be limited in the number of days you can take (for example, a maximum of 3 days in a 12 month period).

From an employer point of view, its a way to manage sickness absence, and by allowing employees the time to recharge, it should reduce stress and improve wellbeing and mental health of the workforce.

The arguments against the use of duvet days would be that it can be abused and employees will use it when they’ve got a hangover and just don’t want to come to work; but some already do this, abusing the sickness policies of their employers.

The main benefit of having access to duvet days is that, unlike holidays, you wouldn’t need to give your employer notice that you’re taking a duvet day; you just call in on the morning in question and advise your manager or point of contact that you won’t be in “today” because you’re taking a duvet day.

Physical health benefits

I would imagine that most of the time if you were feeling physically ill you would take sick leave but sometimes we can just feel a bit off and can’t really identify why that is.  For those of us without duvet days, we would get up and go into work. However, if you had the availability of duvet days, might you just take the day to rest up and hope that whatever you think is building up goes away and therefore you don’t end up dealing with an illness and potentially off work for a longer period of time?

Mental Health Benefits

Prior to the Covid-19 Pandemic, discussions around mental health in the workplace were few and far between. However, since then employee wellbeing and supporting their mental health has been rising up the agenda. Duvet days go somewhat to help this by giving employees the opportunity to take time off without any requirement to specify why.  

Duvet days provide employees with the opportunity, just to grab a breathing space to unwind and recharge their batteries which might be enough to prevent serious mental health issues becoming a problem. That said, employers should not see duvet days, or any other form of individual benefit as a way of absolving them from any responsibility for a poor working environment which creates stress for employees.

What I like about the concept of duvet days is that it puts the employee in control of looking after their physical and mental health and gives them an additional tool at their disposal to support themselves in managing their mental health. 

Is this something that should go beyond the workplace

Normally duvet days would be taken on a work day, but following on from my reflections on Sunday morning, I now ask if we should give ourselves permission to take a duvet day on non-work days?  Or if we feel for time out from life,  is this a symptom of a greater problem that we feel the need to take a duvet day from life?  I enjoyed my relaxed morning but I maybe need to think about what it says that I normally have to persuade myself to look after my own needs.

I’m trying to be reflective at the same time as giving you, my readers, something to think about. I’ve read quite a bit on various blogs about self-care and taking time to ourselves. In that case I would suggest that we need to listen to our bodies and if we need to take the time to pamper ourselves with a duvet day, then why can’t we do that?  Duvet days are about looking after our mental health, and while the workplace can be stressful, its not the only source of stress in our lives. We need to put ourselves first and give ourselves the love and attention we deserve – after all, we would tell our friends that they need to look after themselves.

What does it say if we need to take a duvet day from life

Normally when someone wants to stay in bed rather than getting up, its associated with depression but what I felt on Sunday was calmness: a lack of stress, no pressure to get up. As I pulled the covers back over myself and cooried down, I was doing nothing, but I was in no way bored. I was enjoying being able to just relax into the nothingness, enjoying being by myself and the silence

Initially when I was working on this my thoughts were that its bad that we need to take a duvet day. However, maybe its bad if we let our stress levels get to the stage that we need to take action to treat poor mental health. I now believe that proactively taking duvet days to practice self care and looking after our mental health.

Additional information about Duvet Days can be found at the following sites:

I am excited about joining the Wise and Shine team and share my first post with you.  I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it.  

You can read more of my work at Curiosities, Castles and Coffee Shops

24 thoughts on “Is the duvet day something we should all benefit from?

  1. Oh wow 😊. We call them Doonas in Australia for some reason. Hey what a great idea. I’ve never come across anything like that. Most people use there sickies here as far as I am aware.

    1. Hi Storyteller. My reading indicated that they’re really only prevalent in the UK and the US, but my employers don’t use them unfortunately. I think some employers might think if they provide the facility it just means they’re paying staff to be off even more.

  2. Loved this post, Brenda! Is it possible that duvet days is a reconnection with our intuition of when we need to rest? That is to say, maybe we don’t have to specify to employers why we need a day — or specify to ourselves? Because it seems like it’s the wisdom of listening to a whisper before it becomes a shout. Your description of your Sunday morning duvet day was great – you could relax into nothingness. Which is something!

    1. I like your idea of listening to a whisper – that’s the perfect description to what was in my head. Glad you liked the post too – that means a lot, Wynne. 😘

  3. I so enjoy the duvet days. My prior employer also had “jogging days.” If you wished to take a day off and participate in a marathon or half marathon, you could and it was not deducted from normal holiday time. I don’t jog….

    1. I think a few of my colleagues might like jogging days – I like to stand at my window and watch them jog past for the Glasgow half marathon/10K

  4. I think smart employers can see the benefit of this practice. As with many conversations that have emerged over the last few weeks it seems clear that their are employers who really value their employees- thinking of them as partners…and then there are those who don’t.

    The term I’ve heard used often here is “mental health day” which I’ve always taken to me a cherish oneself, mindfulness day.

    1. I agree Deb. And employees are becoming more discerning, so employers who value and respect their employees will also attract better quality staff

  5. Yes, in the eastern part of the U.S.A., you hear about “mental health days,” but not “duvet days,” which sound much better. Since reading “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron, I’ve been trying something similar: “artist’s dates” to go someplace inspiring, and – “morning pages” which involve writing one’s reflections uncensored. These two combined with camping and a lot of personal reflection appear to be driving my mind to become more creative. For the first time ever, i have two short stories in the hopper…

    1. It sounds like you’re tapping into quite a lot of self-care practices which are benefiting you. I love the term ‘Artist’s Dates. I take it the idea is to go and do something just for you? I’m not sure about the camping bit, but im not surprised that you are being inspired. Good luck with your stories.

      1. Thank you!!! Artist Dates are dates you keep with the artist in you. You choose to do something on your own that will allow your artist to play. Thank you for the thoughtful prompt and reply – please keep us posted about how the duvet days work for you!

    1. I think they can be really beneficial. Thanks for reading and contributing to the discussion 😁

    1. We don’t get it with my employer either; had to make my own … told myself I was taking a duvet day and the laundry could wait – well probably until I want fresh bedding

  6. welcome to W&S Brenda! I didn’t know about the duvet day. We have something like that but we call it in a definitely less nicer way “sick leave without certificate”. I have to say that since we have started working more and more often from remote, less and less colleagues use it. I think it a good thing for all aspects of life.

    1. Thank you Christina. It’s good to be here on W&S.

      I agree with you that remote and hybrid working have had an impact on absence levels as its easier to say I’ll just work from home rather than calling in sick

  7. People used to refer to it as a “mental health day,” though it was not official. I am retired, so I take pleasure in almost never setting an alarm clock after years of getting up at 5:00 or 5:30. Duvet Days sound like a good idea to me, Brenda! <3

Leave a Reply