Beyond the Basics: Exploring Innovative Leave Policies

Birthday leave

Many organisations are now venturing beyond statutory minimum leave, creating unique leave policies that exceed expectations to attract top talent and keep them. We analysed some of the most popular custom leave types that Leave Dates customers have created for their teams and explored the benefit of going above and beyond.

Birthday Leave

Although it is not widespread in UK businesses just yet, more employers are offering paid birthday leave as a benefit to attract and retain talent.

Giving team members their special day to celebrate can be morale-boosting; it demonstrates to staff that their employer values their personal lives and life outside of work.

Birthday leave goes beyond statutory leave requirements in the United Kingdom, offering it entirely discretionary; this leaves an open opportunity for creativity and a flexible policy if you decide to do it.

For example:

  • You may offer it only on the team member's birthday, within the week of, or on the workday before or after (similar to observed bank holidays).
  • The leave day could be taken flexibly, at any time of the year, treating it like a birthday present.

When Word Monster started using Leave Dates, they used the platform's capabilities to reimagine their leave policies as a business, with birthday leave being an important first step. Their generous leave policies are part of a wider strategy to prioritise work-life balance and recruit and retain the best talent. This has recently earned them the honour of the UK's 14th best place to work.

Emergency Leave

The leave that you hope you never have to use, but emergency leave is crucial when the unexpected happens.

Emergency leave goes beyond statutory requirements by not restricting the requirements too heavily, as opposed to similar leave types like dependent leave or bereavement leave. It provides immediate time off for team members to handle an unexpected, critical or urgent personal matter without worrying about losing their position or pay.

The flexibility offered also means companies must encourage transparency and responsible use, with clear communication from management and staff around circumstances and expectations.

Naturally, staff will feel greater loyalty to an employer who is supportive during a difficult time or when they see a colleague being supported. Many people will also appreciate being trusted to manage their time off during a personal emergency, acknowledging the significance of this benefit.

Emergency leave policies can vary greatly, and it is essential to consider the eligibility and duration of your staff's work in your region, whether you are offering paid or unpaid leave, and whether this is determined by specific circumstances. If planned correctly, time off for personal emergencies can contribute significantly to a positive and productive workplace

Christmas Leave

When snow falls, and you can curl up in the house with hot chocolate and an ugly sweater, you know it's Christmas and a great time to take off work.

Offering leave for the weeks surrounding Christmas is aligned with our traditions and culture in the UK, as it is in many other parts of the world, providing us with time to celebrate and rest as the year draws to a close. Christmas and Boxing Day are bank holidays in the UK and many regions worldwide. Still, businesses often offer leave in the weeks surrounding them if trade is slower.

As it is so ingrained in our culture, it is common for businesses to slow down and operate with minimal staff or close entirely during this period, making it the perfect time of year to give staff some time off. For businesses that don't close over the period, the uniquely quiet trade provides an opportunity for reflection and strategic planning.

If Christmas leave is offered in your business, it is crucial to consider that some team members may not celebrate Christmas for various reasons and be sensitive to them. Consider some flexibility for these team members, allowing them to continue working through the period and offering them something that aligns better with their culture or circumstances.

Study Leave

There are great reasons to support your team members when they are levelling up their skills and knowledge. Investing in the education and development of your staff is an investment in everyone's future, which can come in many forms.

To accommodate the study commitments of staff, you could offer:

  • Paid leave
  • Unpaid leave
  • Flexible work arrangements

This opportunity allows staff to upskill and progress in their career, exposing them to valuable industry knowledge. These team members will often make excellent mentors within the workplace and create an infectious environment of innovation and creativity.

Study leave is another excellent way to attract and retain top talent, as it will attract ambitious and hard-working people who seek a meaningful career.


Approaches to employee wellness and engagement are evolving quickly, and the leave policies outlined in this article offer significant benefits that go far beyond statutory requirements.

Although not all are widely adopted yet, the growing popularity of leave policies that go beyond the minimum requirements proves that there is a shift towards human-centric workplaces. These workplaces value personal time and celebration, support their people in difficult times, value culture and tradition and play a crucial role in the growth and professional development of their staff. Embracing diverse leave policies proves a commitment to your staff that your business is willing to invest in their well-being throughout their career, giving you a happier, more loyal and productive team.



Ché manages our marketing, communications and partnerships. She helps people find Leave Dates and make sure it is right for them. Her favourite weekly task is sending thank you messages to customers who review us.