While the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way of the world forcing people back into their homes, it also opened up room for some important conversations. Mental health and work-life balance were abstract concepts that were only parts of company handbooks, not meant to be implemented in life (much like equality at the workplace).
But as the lockdown sparked the debate on mental health among the working populace, the discourse turned into a discussion. Many people championed the cause of healthy work-life balance and the importance of addressing mental health even in the workplace.
A survey conducted by The7thFold in 2020 revealed that close to 36% Indian employees were suffering from mental health issues. From uncertainty to stress, financial constraints to health issues, everything contributed to the increasing levels of anxiety and depression.
While Indian companies boast of holistic insurance packages and sick leaves for their employees, mental health leaves seemed like a thing for the utopic future, until recently.
A lot of major consulting firms, tech firms and startups have either included mental health leaves in their existing policies, or rebranded sick leaves as wellness leaves to allow their employees to unwind and de-stress.
If you’re looking for one such place to work at, here are the ones we loved.
Indian companies that offer wellness leaves to their employees
1. Urban Company
Formerly known as UrbanClap, Urban Company launched unlimited leaves for their employees. The policy that was rolled out in 2020 ahead of World Mental Health Day makes the home services startup one of the first companies to allow mental health leaves in the country.
“Employees will be allowed to take unlimited sick leaves in case they are suffering from any form of mental or physical illness, particularly if the patient has contracted COVID 19,” said the company.
In a bid to support the mental health of their employees, the startup has partnered with iWill, a mental wellness startup, which gives them unlimited access to the country’s top psychologists.
Unicorn startup Meesho has been in the news for having the best policies for their employees. The founders announced a company-wide ten day leave for all their employees from November 4th through 14th to unplug, rest, and rejuvenate. Living up to their reputation, the company recently rolled out an unlimited leave policy under the Meesho MeeCARE programme.
As per the policy, employees can avail up to 365 days of leave for medical and mental health reasons.
The policy is applicable in case the employee or a family member is impacted by a critical illness or one that requires frequent hospitalisation, or if someone wants to take time off work to pursue a personal goal or passion.
As per a report published in the Economic Times, the employee will be paid fully in case of personal illness, and a 25% salary up to three months in case of a loved one. Other key benefits like provident fund, insurance, and medical benefits will also be provided. In case of non-medical reasons though, the leave will be unpaid.
Fashion and e-commerce platform, Myntra, rolled out Unlimited Wellness Leaves for all their employees. As per the policy, an employee can avail a paid leave any time they are feeling under the weather, without worrying about a limited leave balance.
In a statement released in 2021, the company stated “Heading into 2021, Myntra has enhanced certain privileges on leaves, to enable its workforce to enjoy the best of both, work and personal life. The pioneering move will enable employees to avail themselves of Unlimited Wellness Leaves and an additional host of other leave options. The enhancement comes in the form of a renewed employee leave structure, designed to correspond strongly with the organization’s people culture, which is based on care and empathy.”
Mobile marketing platform, InMobi rolled out a 21-day Wellness Leave Policy for their employees in 2021. The Bangalore-based firm suggested that the ‘no-questions asked’ policy will allow their employees to recharge themselves as often as they require.
Sahil Mathur, chief HR officer of InMobi Group stated that "One concern in today's environment is long work hours and blurring between personal and professional lives..As we evolve and adapt to the new ways of working, it is crucial to encourage people to recharge themselves."
5. Nova Benefits
Employee wellness tech platform Nova Benefits has a no-questions asked leave policy for their employees. The company offers unlimited leaves to their employees, all of whom are also mandated to take a break after working continuously for 45 days.
The company has partnered with Manah Health and Wellness to provide mental health counselling to their employees whenever and wherever they may need it.
Additionally, all expenses incurred by their employees, including weekly counselling sessions with a counsellor of their choice, are reimbursed by the company.
6. Deloitte India
Consulting giant Deloitte India rolled out additional 6 days wellness leaves, over and above the annual leave entitlement. In conversation with ET, SV Nathan, partner and chief talent officer of Deloitte India stated:
“These can be used for any reason whatsoever — not just for recovery from an illness or injury, but also simply to unwind and de-stress.”
Additionally, the company has introduced a ‘shared leave bank’ so the employees can borrow leaves from their colleagues in case of medical or familial emergencies, or just to combat work-related burnout.
Indian Health and Wellness Organisation Sarva has launched a rather unconventional way of dealing with work-related stress and anxiety. The company rolled out a policy that allows each employee to take a leave every second Friday, so they can de-stress and re-energise over the long weekend.
Sarva’s founder, Sarvesh Shashi said: “Since the lockdown, we’ve been evaluating our ways of working and consciously making adjustments. We’ve also been considering and taking feedback on making the work week shorter and more productive.”
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