Wake County employees will have dedicated time away from the office to focus on their mental health and wellbeing, starting in January 2023, when a new kind of paid leave takes effect.
It’s called “Wellness Leave,” and the Wake County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved it during the Oct. 3 board meeting.
The new benefit offers two days of paid leave to full- and part-time employees, so they can take advantage of wellness activities, preventive care and support service visits like therapy. Staff can also use Wellness Leave to manage any stress, anxiety, or depression that they or their immediate family members are experiencing.
"We’re committed to helping our 4,500 employees prioritize their mental health and wellbeing,” said Board Chair Sig Hutchinson. "Self-care is easy to put on the back burner, when you’re busy. Creating this new leave option gives our staff dedicated time to address any issues they’re facing.”
The new Wellness Leave option supports the county’s existing health and wellness resources, particularly the various mental health benefits available through the county’s health plan, employee assistance program and employee health centers.
Establishing paid Wellness Leave is the latest example of the board’s ongoing efforts to promote a good work-life balance and make it easier to recruit and retain top talent. It builds on the commission’s actions in 2019 to enact Paid Family Leave and 2016 to pass a Paid Parental Leave Policy and formalize efforts to create a culture of health in Wake County.
Wake County is recognized locally and nationally for excellence in employee health and wellness. It was named the Healthiest Large Employer of the Triangle in 2021 and ranked No. 8 in the 2021 Healthiest 100 Workplaces in America.