Is it possible to take time off work because of stress?

Is it possible to take time off work because of stress?

If you are exhausted and overwhelmed because of work-related stressors, you may be able to take time off to rest and recharge. Whether you are experiencing physical or mental fatigue (or both), taking a stress leave is something to consider.

A stress leave is defined by the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) as a type of sick leave that provides three unpaid days off work. The employee who requests a stress leave must have worked at least two weeks in their employment contract to be eligible to take this time off. When submitting this request, it is necessary that you receive a note from a medical professional confirming your health issues.

When an employee is on sick leave, the employer cannot use that as grounds to terminate their employment. The ESA keeps the employee’s job secure during this period.

How does an employee know if they should take a stress leave?

Admitting work has been too stressful for your emotional and/or physical well-being can be very challenging. But sometimes acknowledging you need rest will benefit you more for your long-term career.

If you are having difficulty deciding whether stress leave is something you should consider, recognizing the key indicators of stress could help support your decision. Some ways to identify you are overly stressed include anxiousness, sadness, difficulty focusing, demotivation, severe headaches, or trouble sleeping. These symptoms create issues like difficulty completing tasks, ineffective performance, depression or anxiety.

What might be the source of all this stress? There are certain issues an employee may face at work that could be stress inducing, and more likely for the employee to require a period of leave. It could come down to simply overloading the employee with too much work. If the employee constantly feels like they will never get everything done, it could lead to the employee feeling helpless, and eventually overly stressed.

Another example of why an employee may be feeling stressed at work is the inter-relations of staff and workplace culture affecting the employee’s wellbeing at work. There could be ongoing bullying that causes the employee to feel a constant discomfort and unease at work.

What if three days off isn’t enough?

If you have a note from a medical professional indicating that you require more time away from work to manage stress, the Ontario Human Rights Code enforces that your employer must accommodate unless it causes undue hardship (meaning the accommodation is too great or costly in relation to the circumstances).

If you are experiencing severe stress at the workplace and need legal assistance on how to navigate your matter, please contact KCY at LAW by filling in an online consultation request or contact us by phone at 905-639-0999 to book your consultation today.