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As the world emerges from a pandemic, we are beginning to return to a feeling of normalcy. However, the working world did learn some valuable lessons, especially when it came to flexibility and leave policies.
In 2023, we are seeing rising trends in businesses offering more versatile leave policies in response to their employees’ needs. This includes leave that extends beyond traditional sick and vacation leave — showing that employers are recognizing the importance of life outside of work.
As we move into 2024, what kind of leave policies should you offer your employees?
We will look at the most recent data from the Mercer 2023 Leave Programs survey. This survey offers leave practices from a wide range of industries across Canada. You can consider this data and employee listening tools to decide if your company needs to make any changes to your leave policies.
Potential employees want to see that you value their personal time and obligations with generous leave policies.
Here are some of the emerging trends in Canada from our most recent survey. These categories are outside of standard vacation and sick leave.
In the family and care leave category, miscarriage leave is becoming a popular option, with 25% of businesses in the study offering this type of leave with pay. Another 2% offer it without pay and 13% offer a combination of paid and unpaid leave.
Foster care and surrogacy leave are also offered by 12% of businesses as paid leave to their employees.
One type of family and care leave that isn’t getting much attention is grandparents leave. Only 4% of companies in our survey offer this as a paid leave option.
Reddit, which opened a Toronto office in early 2021, offers its employees eight-and-a-half weeks of paid leave when they experience a pregnancy loss. This includes the people who are pregnant and those who aren’t, like their partners.
In a true sign of the times, 44% of companies in our survey offer their employees paid vaccination leave. This gives employees a minimum of 3 paid hours to leave work to get a vaccination.
Other emerging trends for health-related leave include mental health and well-being days. These are offered as paid time off at 25% and 20% of surveyed companies, respectively.
Rising trends in this category show how companies respond to their employees' physical and mental health needs. They recognize that happier, healthier employees will contribute to a more successful company overall. One company that followed this trend is the communications company RingCentral, which employs Canadians remotely. In 2022, it started a new initiative called CaRing Days. These are extra paid days off where employees can recharge and do what they love.
A few types of health-related leave that are not seeing as much movement as a paid leave option include gender affirmation leave (2%), menstrual leave (2%), and menopause leave (0%).
We all have significant events and cultural activities that we participate in each year. Some companies are offering paid time off to honor those special events. The most common type of events/cultural leave is marriage leave. In our survey, 18% of companies offer paid time off when an employee gets married.
Not nearly as common is birthday leave. Only 6% of respondents offered a paid day off for their employees’ birthdays.
Intuit Canada is leading the way with its events/cultural leave policies by offering a paid day off for employee birthdays and a company holiday to commemorate Juneteenth.
Offering paid leave for public duties is the most common type of leave covered in our survey. Seventy-one percent of respondents give their employees paid time off to attend jury duty. While giving employees time off for jury duty is typically required, paying them for their time away is not, which makes this percentage even more significant.
Time off for voting is also common, with 49% offering paid time off and an additional 6% offering unpaid time off.
Less common is offering paid time off for military leave. Only 10% of the companies in our survey offered this benefit.
Public duties are typically highly regarded in Canada, which is why so many businesses offer these types of leave, with many going above and beyond by paying their employees for this time off.
Additional personal leave is not a popular leave category. Twenty percent of the survey respondents offered paid leave for extreme weather conditions, while 12% offered paid leave for studying or taking an exam.
Much less common is paid leave for moving to a new house and pet leave, at only 8% and 2%, respectively.
With extreme weather events becoming more common, we may see a continued increase in this type of leave. One recent study found that 22% of Canadians believe extreme weather will affect their job stability in the coming years.
Vacation days are a vital part of most total rewards benefit packages. However, some businesses are leading the charge in offering more versatile vacation leave policies. In our survey, 44% of businesses offer paid time off in lieu. This is leave available to employees who have worked extra hours. They can take time off instead of accepting overtime pay.
Another 28% of companies offer summer working hours. This is where the business hours are adjusted during the summer months — employees work extra hours Monday through Thursday so they can leave early or not work at all on Friday.
Less common types of additional time off include time off as a gift, temporary company shutdowns, and unlimited leave policies. While unlimited leave was only an option at 4% of the companies in our survey, Canadians who work at Alida, Uberflip, Purpose, and LoKnow get to enjoy that benefit.
Offering an abundance of time off as part of your benefits package is attractive to many potential employees. However, offering every type of leave available, will quickly become unsustainable and expensive.
Employees want leave policies that match their lifestyle needs, whether that is time off for mental health, family obligations, or additional vacation time. To choose the best leave policies for your company, identify to the needs of your employees by using employee listening tools and surveys.
To get even more insights into leave programs in Canada, get the full details in our latest study. You can take your total rewards strategy even farther by taking advantage of our Talent All Access package.
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