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Policy idea

Recent announcements and proposals from provincial politicians regarding employment rules have been encouraging.

Last week, the Ontario provincial government announced they would introduce legislation to require employers, who have 25 employees or more, to create workplace policies regarding when it is appropriate to disconnect from work emails at the end of a workday, “encouraging employees to turn on out-of-office notifications when they aren’t working.” This legislation has not yet been passed. However, this seems like a good step to promote a healthy work-life balance.

If passed, the legislation would also ban the use of non-compete agreements by employers. These clauses restrict when and where an employee can find a new job in their field after they stop working at a business. This is intended to make it easier for an employee to find work in the province.

The Ontario Liberals have also recently announced they will propose testing out a four-day workweek in the province if elected in next year’s provincial election. I don’t think I really need to explain the positives of adding one more day to the weekend.

While work-life balance and finding ways to encourage employment in the province have become hot-button topics in this pandemic world, I think there’s one more thing the Ontario provincial government should look at. I think it’s time to make paid mental health days available to all employees.

As stated by several politicians and community organizations, this COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the mental health of many residents of Ontario. Standardizing mental health days would help reduce the stigma of mental health in workplaces. It would acknowledge the effect our mental health has on our overall production and well-being. It would also give employees opportunities to take care of themselves.

Mental health days should be separate from regular sick days because it would allow separate focuses for an employee’s physical and mental health.

From an employer’s side of things, it gives them an opportunity to make sure all of their workers are fresh and productive when they’re on the job and are not on the path to burning out. It could also incentivize employment in Ontario, with employees knowing they have a safety net if ever their mental health suffers.

While there are some good ideas coming from provincial officials, I think paid mental health days would be a great addition to the workplace conversation.

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