What Is a Personal Day?
Employers understand that for staff to work their best, they need to feel their best. So even if you love your job and it's your dream career, time off is still crucial to helping you to maintain a positive work-life balance.
In addition, it can help you to reduce your stress and give you time to spend with your loved ones.
Paid-time off policies is in the midst of a seismic change.
Some employers, such as Netflix, notoriously offer unlimited time off for all staff.
This is because they trust that their team knows when they need to work and when it's time for a break.
However, it's about understanding that achievements and productivity define success, not how many hours you spend looking at a screen.
Similarly, in the UK, employers offer generous time-off entitlement, with workers allowed up to 28 days of paid annual leave per year.
As more employers offer personal days, we must understand what a personal day is and use it without disrupting others.
It is important to remember that personal days are allocated to you as part of your employee benefits. Therefore, you are fully entitled to make the most of them.
What Is a Personal Day?
A personal day is a day that you can use when you have personal errands to run.
Perhaps you want to catch your child's play at school, or maybe you are moving house, and you need time to pack and relocate. You might need to attend a wedding or a funeral, or you could be summoned for jury duty.
The purpose of a personal day is to allow you to take time off for personal matters, with little risk of being asked by colleagues what you were doing and why.
How Does a Personal Day Differ From a Sick Day or Standard Paid Time Off?
Many employers have specific office policies that relate to personal days, sick days, and vacation days. While all of them relate to paid time off, their usage is very different.
A sick day is for when you are ill and unable to come to work. By its very nature, sick days are often extremely short notice.
A vacation day is for when you are on vacation.
It is often a form of planned absence – employers will likely have lots of notice and, as such, can prepare cover for you or ensure a seamless handover to colleagues to cover your workload.
Some employers may allow you to interchange the days. After all, as long as the work is covered, they do not need to worry too much about how you are using your time off.
Others are strict and require each day to be used for its distinct purpose. If you are working for an employer such as this, it's important to be aware of your internal policies.
For example, if you are caught adding on a few personal days to extend your vacation, you may find yourself in breach of internal terms and conditions.
How Do Personal Days Work?
One of the reasons why employees rely on personal days is that they cause little office chatter.
Whereas colleagues may ask you how you are feeling after taking time out sick, or they may chat to you about your vacation, they are less likely to ask you how your day was if you take a personal day.
Therefore, there is an intrinsic awareness with staff that you may not wish to discuss why if you take a personal day.
As mentioned, there are a myriad of reasons why you may wish to take a personal day:
- You may require a doctor's appointment
- You may need to look after a loved one. Perhaps you've got some errands you need to run that can only be done during the day
- You feel that you're starting to become overwhelmed with work and you need a few days to refresh yourself mentally
How to Take a Personal Day
Personal days are often taken with more notice than a sick day. It's why employers appreciate them because they can use the advance warning to ensure that your work is covered.
In most cases, your employers will have specific personal day policies that determine how you request to take a personal day, how much time is allowed and how much notice you have to give.
As we mentioned, more employers are starting to be flexible with any paid-time-off policies.
For example, they may allow you to add your personal day allowance to your vacation allocation.
However, if you're unsure what you are allowed to do, you should always talk to a line manager or an HR representative for certainty.
The Growing Trend for Paid-Time Off Policies
Many large employers have moved away from specific personal days, sick days, and vacation day allocations in recent years, favoring a more simplistic paid time off policy.
These policies allow you to take your paid time off for anything you want. You can use your time at your own discretion.
These encompassing policies are far more simplistic for companies to manage.
However, it reduces the administrative burden from an HR perspective and shows greater trust and understanding of your employees.
By treating staff as adults, these firms are generating excellent reputations for being great employers.
This, in turn, creates a more robust recruitment strategy as candidates will always seek to work for those with excellent reputations.
How to Take a Personal Day in a Considerate Way
As with any request to take time off work, it's often how you make the request that determines how favorably your employer reacts. However, with personal days, there are a few ways that you can make the process smoother.
Consider Key Deadlines
We mentioned earlier that personal days are often more scheduled than unexpected sick days.
If you need to take some time off for personal matters, make sure you have received your staff schedules or rotas before asking.
If your team is likely to be short-staffed, then your request may be denied.
There are times when a personal day is needed on a specific date. But if you can be flexible about your time, then why not try to consider how your absence may impact your co-workers?
For example, if you work in accountancy, you will want to avoid taking any avoidable time off at the busiest time of your year.
Similarly, if you work in a job role where staff numbers need to meet a certain level (perhaps hospitality or retail, try to consider other people.
You may want to ask your colleagues for help. For example, if you know that you can't make a specific shift, can you ask someone to cover for you in return for a favor at a later date?
If you've been able to resolve the staffing issue before requesting your personal day's leave, your employer will be more amenable to the idea.
Use the Formal Processes and Procedures to Request Your Time Off
Be aware of the formal methods that are in place in your organization. If your company has set out a way to request a personal day-related absence, then follow each step.
The firm will have put those policies in place for a reason. So, you must follow these guidelines.
Give as Much Notice as Possible
It is no surprise that employers want to have as much notice as possible regarding staff absences. If you can let your employer know ahead of time, they will have time to manage your absence.
This could be about covering your shifts (necessary if you work in a public-facing role such as nursing, retail or hospitality).
Alternatively, if you are taking a few personal days together, your line manager may require additional communication to confirm the status of particular projects or tasks.
If they can have a seamless handover, then they can manage your workload in your absence.
It's about being as courteous as possible to your employer.
Personal Day FAQs
Do You Need To Tell Your Employer What Your Personal Day Is For?
Generally speaking, you can keep your reasons for needing a personal day private. An employer doesn't technically need to know what you are doing on your day off.
However, if you are requesting time off due to a medical issue (either physical or mental health), your employer may be required to conduct additional checks on your return to confirm that you are fit and well, and able to work.
This will depend on the company.
Some companies may be happy for you to roll over unused personal days into a new year (calendar or financial); however, they may have limitations on how many days can be rolled over.
Other firms will operate a "use it or lose it" scenario.
In these circumstances, if you have not used your personal day allowance, you will not receive pay in lieu of not using it.
Similarly, if you leave your job, your unused personal day allocation will not be paid out as part of your termination.
How Many Personal Days Are You Entitled To?
Often, the number of personal days you can accrue may depend on your seniority within your business and the amount of time you have worked there.
However, it's not uncommon to accumulate more personal days in line with your longevity.
Some businesses may base their personal days in line with the calendar year, meaning that employees accrue more and more as the year goes on.
Others may take a more simplistic approach and offer a specific allocation to each employee each year.
Typically, you can expect your personal day allocation to be two to three days per year.
However, flexible employers will often let employees break their personal days down to an hourly basis.
For example, perhaps you need to leave work an hour early to collect your child from school, or maybe you have a singular appointment at the start of your day.
By offering flexible use of personal days, employers can attract excellent candidates who welcome flexible working practices.
Can Your Surplus Personal Days Be Pooled Into Your Vacation Entitlement?
This will ultimately depend upon your employer and its systems and processes.
Some automated systems may allow you to pool your time off together.
You may have a flexible employer who is happy to reward your hard work and dedication and is more than willing to combine your time off, as long as you are open and honest.
If you are keen to combine your personal days with your vacation (perhaps you can get better flight deals if you change your days), your first step is to talk with your line manager or HR representative.
Employers welcome honesty and transparency. They will respect those who are open and honest with them; therefore, if you treat your employer with respect, you will be more likely to receive the same in return.
Unfortunately, too many employees are reluctant to take any vacation or personal days because they fear that they will be viewed negatively in the workplace.
However, a culture shift is emerging. Slowly but surely, employers recognize that they benefit from increased productivity and better loyalty by taking care of their staff.
What's more, staff are prepared to advocate for them as great employers.
Too many people are suffering from the effects of professional burnout.
The human body can only absorb so much stress; therefore, you must listen to your body and take steps to look after yourself. The use of personal days is a good way for you to refresh and unwind.
It's important to remember that these days are allocated to you. You are entitled to take them, so you shouldn't feel bad about making the most of your allowances.
This is especially true if you are working in a senior position.
Company cultures can only change if leaders are leading by example. If you have a team that you are responsible for, therefore, you need to show your team that taking a personal day is hugely beneficial and maintains an excellent work-life balance.