Taking Leave for Stress in the Workplace

Peninsula Team

October 31 2019

Why is Stress an Issue in the Workplace?

As an employer, is the well-being of your employees a top priority? Employees form the backbone of a business, and their productivity is a major driving force propelling the company forward. Investing in the welfare of employees is a key contributor to individuals thriving in their roles.  

This article highlights one major force negatively impacting work forces all over Canada, and that is stress. Stress is a natural reaction and not inherently bad; however, in excessive amounts it can lower an individual’s quality of life and impede their ability to function optimally at work. In fact, studies have revealed that 25% of Canadians have quit their job for stress-related reasons.

Can Employees Take Time Off Work for a Stress-Related Reason?

Legislation on leaves in the workplace varies by province; however, in Ontario, the Employment Standards Act gives employees access to three sick days, three family leave days, and two bereavement leave days. Should an employee feel the need to take a stress-related sick leave, as a result of a physical or mental condition, Ontario law protects them from dismissal, suspension or lay off by their employer.

It is important for business owners to know what their provincial employment standards legislation states, regarding the leaves that employees have available to them.

 What Can Employers Do to Minimize Stress in the Workplace?

Employers should be proactive in combating stress. The following are strategies employers can use to reduce stress at work and help employees deal with stress from their personal life.

Assess the Workplace for Stressors

This involves finding pressures in the workplace with the potential to cause high or long-lasting levels of stress and recognizing who may be impacted by these stressors.

Properly Address Stress

It is unrealistic to think that stress can be completely removed from the workplace or an individual’s personal life; but employers can put systems, such as the following, in place to address them:

  • Provide workplace health and wellness programs
  • Include employees in decision-making
  • Offer flexible working arrangements
  • Ensure staff have adequate training and resources to thrive in their role
  • Know the signs and symptoms that a person is struggling with coping with stress

Can I Terminate an Employee on Stress Leave?

Terminating an employee on stress leave, is not ideal as it could trigger a wrongful dismissal claim against the employer.

Although stress is not a protected ground under the Human Rights Act, it may have been caused from a protected ground, such as race, religion or a disability.

If you are an employer or are just setting up your business, speak with our consultants to you have the correct HR policies and programs to protect your staff. Our HR and health & safety advisors will help you with employee management, contracts and documentation and equip you with online HR software. Call us today: 1(833)247-3652.

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