In the News: Hangover Days

The BBC reported that a digital marking agency has begun to allow “hangover days” for their employees. A few other companies have contributed to the article, advising that they also offer hangover days, allowing people to call in after a heavy night.

The companies which have “hangover days”, as they are termed, have explained their use for two reasons:

  1. Its “a perk for people who don’t have kids”.

 

One of the contributors to the article stated that “the idea behind it is that parents have a lot of perks at our business but there are not necessarily any for people who don’t have children.”

 

We found this idea a little concerning, given that for one thing it assumes that parents won’t go out in the evening or require a “hangover day”. Secondly, the contributor doesn’t identify what the “perks” that parents have in her organisation, but we would be concerned that what she sees as “perks” might in fact be statutory rights. Whilst no one is entitled to be hungover, parents are legally entitled to dependents leave and parental leave. It’s clear that managers should make it clear to members of staff what allowances are “perks” and which are parental rights.

 

  1. They promote honesty

 

This, we understand, as it discourages the fraudulent use of sick days. However, as well as promoting honesty, does a “hangover policy” also promote unhealthy lifestyles and drinking to excess?

People may not drink for family, religious or medical reasons, and those people shouldn’t be excluded from leave entitlement due to this. In a recent article, we have discussed how employers should be promoting inclusive networking. The use of a “hangover day” doesn’t really seem compatible with this and, in fact, may be a discriminatory policy if it is only offered to those suffering with a hangover, therefore excluding those who drink alcohol.

On further inspection, it has become clear that this is just an arrangement to work from home at the last minute. It is not a duvet day, as some companies have, which is essentially last minute holiday, but instead, it means that people can “work from the comfort of their own sofa – or even bed”. In the age of smart and flexible working, arrangements like this are becoming ever more common and, in fact, this arrangement isn’t unusual and shouldn’t in our view be promoted and encouraged for those who are only hungover.

The only unusual element of a “hangover day” is the terminology used which, by its very nature, excludes those who don’t drink and may be discriminatory if it is exercised in that way. We would advise that any policy of this nature should be made to be more inclusive, and that it would be more straightforward (and less controversial) to just provide a smart working policy which allows employees to work from home at the last minute.

If you have any questions about the contents of this article, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us. We offer HR Packages which provides full HR support for businesses; we can draft policies and handbooks which may include flexible working or smart working policies.

By Alicia Collinson

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