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How we wrote our mental health sick day policy

A lot of businesses ask me “what makes a good mental health sick day policy?”

I know it’s something that is a real current challenge for businesses, especially those in HR or People team positions who are often the ones having to try and figure it out. 

I also know that, to some degree, many businesses are a little scared of tackling the mental health sick day policy.

Some are worried that they’re going to do the wrong thing, and others don’t even know where to start.

And, to name the elephant in the room, I often hear from businesses “it’s hard for me to know whether an employee is actually struggling with their mental health, or if they’re just taking advantage”.

If that’s you…I get it. This is new territory for everyone.

That last piece sparks a conversation around employee/employer trust, which I won’t get into here. 

But, what I do want to do is share with you Sanctus’ internal ‘Mental Health Day’ policy, and also our ‘Sickness’ policy. This is all pulled straight from our employee handbook written by our very own Vic Lloyd.

our employee handbook
The grand opening to our Employee Handbook

Obviously, our dream is that one day no company handbook will need a special section defining what a mental health day is, simply because they’ve become the norm.

Unfortunately, we’re not quite there yet as a society, so that’s why we’ve given it its own special section alongside ‘Sickness’.

I’m not here to tell you what the right or wrong thing is to do. You might read this and think “not for us!”, and that’s cool.

We’re also a pretty small startup, so if you’re a large corporate, it also might just not make practical sense. 

But, this is what works for us, and if you’re looking to shape a policy, I hope this might offer at least some guidance of how we’ve gone about shaping ours.

I’ve also included a template at the bottom of this post to serve as a starting point for you. 

For context, we’ve had staff that have taken time out of work for their mental health using this policy, and it worked well for both parties. 

But, it’s what works right now, and that might change as we also change as a company.

So, without further ado…

Our mental health sick day policy

How we view mental health and physical health here at Sanctus…

our mental health sick day policy

Our sickness policy

How all of the above plays out with our sickness policy…

our sickness policy

Writing a mental health sick day policy

We’re not consultants, so I don’t want to sit here and tell you “here’s how to write an A* mental health policy”.

Every company is at a different stage, and it’s important that policies reflect that.

That being said, I like to think we know a thing or two about at least offering some guidance on how policies can be framed in a way that accounts for both the needs of the individual and the business.

And, of course, for those of you that have taken on the burden of actually writing the thing!

You can see more of that in the link below or through the download button.

Any questions? Feel free to reach out to us here.