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1 in 4 employers have noticed increase in sick leave due to mental health: survey

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March 28, 2023
By Talent Canada

Photo: nenetus/Adobe Stock

The stigma around mental health in the workplace continues to be chipped away, with 43 per cent of employers saying staff are talking more openly about their mental health over the last 12 months.

However only 12 per cent of employees have confided in their bosses, and one in seven of those who did speak to their boss said that nothing was done, according to the findings from Peninsula Group, a global human resources consultancy firm.

A quarter of survey respondents say they have noticed an increase in sick leave due to mental health but, despite that, 90 per cent of businesses do not offer mental health days to employees.

“Nearly half (48 per cent) of Canadian employees have experienced at least one work-related mental health risk factor,” said Darren Chadwick, CEO of Peninsula Canada. “It should be clear to any employer that mental health is an area they need to take very seriously. And that message seems to be getting through.”


And while 94 per cent of employers said they’re available to help staff who are struggling with mental health concerns, the data suggests that the support being offered by employers doesn’t match up with what employees want or need.

Two thirds of employers said they are confident their employees would talk to them and disclose mental health concerns, but less than 10 per cent of bosses said they are comfortable discussing their own personal mental health.

“Although people are comfortable speaking more openly about their mental health and prioritizing work/life balance, it’s surprising to see less than 10 per cent of Canadian employers who have used EAP services from those who have experienced mental health issues over the last 12 months. Rather than utilizing company services, employers turned to family and friends for support,” said Chadwick.

The survey of 79,000 businesses across four countries – Australia, Canada, Ireland, and the UK – was conducted by Peninsula Group to take a mental health temperature check and see if increased financial pressures and the cost-of-living crisis are having an impact on the mental health of the workforce.

Other key findings

  • Employees in Canada and Australia are more likely to take time off work due to mental health than those in the UK or Ireland.
  • More than two-thirds of bosses in all four countries are comfortable discussing employees’ mental health concerns.
  • 46 per cent of UK employers have seen an increase in the number of people in their workplace experiencing issues with mental health.
  • Canadian employers are more likely to offer mental health days in addition to personal leave entitlement than any other. 23 per cent already offer them with another 15 per cent planning to introduce them within the next 12 months.
  • In comparison, 85 per cent of employers in the UK, 81 per cent in Ireland and 67 per cent in Australia do not offer mental health days or plan to introduce them in the next 12 months.
  • Ireland is seeing an increase in the number of people taking time off work to care for family members with mental health issues; it was the only one of the four countries surveyed where this ranked in the top three answers.

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