Seeing more leave and accommodation requests?


Mental health issues are leading the increase

Employees appear to be asking for more leave from work as well as workplace accommodations. Leave requests have increased by 62 percent over the last year, and accommodation requests have increased by 75 percent, according to a survey by AbsenceSoft. One of the driving factors behind these numbers is mental health.

These numbers might not be too surprising, since the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) says that one in five Americans live with a mental health condition.

How we got here

Employers that see an increase in leave requests and accommodations due to mental health issues know that the numbers ring true.

The pandemic helped bring mental health issues out of the darkness and into the forefront. The phrase “it’s OK to not be OK” became a common saying the past few years. Now, employees might be more comfortable not only talking about their challenges but asking for related help. That support often comes in the form of time off or other workplace changes, such as flexible scheduling.

Aside from company policies, employers might have other obligations required by federal laws. Under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), a serious health condition can be physical or mental. Similarly, a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) can be physical or mental. Employers, therefore, need to be prepared to manage both types of scenarios that employees might be battling.

Burnout plays a role

According to NAMI, half (52 percent) of employees say they have felt burned out in the past year because of their jobs.

Employees who are less comfortable talking about their mental health at work are, however, more likely to report feeling burnout and say that their mental health is suffering because of work in the past year.

The same is true for managers who feel their workplace isn’t giving them the proper resources to discuss mental health with their direct reports.

Younger employees (under age 50) and female employees are more likely to report feeling burned out, according to NAMI.

The bottom line

The mental health stigma isn’t gone. While many employees feel it’s OK to talk about mental health concerns in the workplace, most are not comfortable doing so. More employees will, however, ask for time off or another form of accommodation to deal with it.

Key to Remember: Employers should not be surprised to see an increase in leave and/or accommodation requests, largely due to mental health issues.

This article was written by Darlene M. Clabault, SHRM-CP, PHR, CLMS, of J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc. The content of these news items, in whole or in part, MAY NOT be copied into any other uses without consulting the originator of the content.


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