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STRESS LEAVE IN ONTARIO

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), stress can be defined as the body’s reaction to a real or perceived threat, which is known as the instinctual fight or flight response. The everyday threats faced today often do not require a fight or flight response, rather they are problems people have to work through. In the workplace, stress leave is usually experienced when there is a conflict between job demands and the amount of control an employee has over meeting those demands. Experiencing stress in the workplace can be severely overwhelming and have various psychological effects, such as a lack of confidence, difficulties making decisions, and concentrating. Physical effects can also manifest when experiencing workplace stress, such as sweating, sleep difficulties, headaches, restlessness, and change in appetite. High levels of stress that is unmanaged can lead to chronic health conditions, while also causing biochemical changes in the body. According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC), Canadian employees report workplace stress as a primary cause of mental health concerns, where 500 000 employees are unable to work every week due to mental health challenges.

 

Under the Employment Standards Act, 2000, you have the right to take stress leave in Ontario if you are experiencing stress that is unmanageable. Employees are entitled to three unpaid sick days each year, due to personal illness, injury, or medical emergency. The three unpaid stress leaves are minimum employment standards in Ontario, though you may be entitled to more days based on your employment contract. An employment contract may stipulate how many sick days you are entitled to per year, as well as if they are paid or unpaid. Before taking sick leave it is imperative that you talk to your employer, as you may be entitled to more than three days. When taking stress leave, an employer may ask for a doctor’s note stating that you are unable to work. It is important to note that your stress does not need to be work-related to take stress leave in Ontario, though if your stress is work-related, you may be eligible for WSIB benefits. To receive WSIB benefits there must be a substantial workplace stressor, such as workplace harassment or abusive behavior. If you are experiencing severe stress, your symptoms may be classified as a disability, which may make you eligible for short term disability or long term disability benefits.

 

COVID-19 and Stress Leave in Ontario 2020

 

Workers who are suffering increased anxiety and depression or even an increase in OCD symptoms as a result of the coronavirus pandemic may be eligible to claim short and long term disability benefits even if they themselves have not contracted coronavirus disease.

References

 

https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/healthy-living/your-health/lifestyles/your-health-mental-health-coping-stress-health-canada-2008.html

https://www.ontario.ca/document/your-guide-employment-standards-act-0/sick-leave

https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/labour-standards/reports/sick-leave.html

https://cmha.ca/documents/stress

https://www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/English/news-article/13522/canadian-employees-report-workplace-stress-primary-cause-mental-health-concerns

https://www.ccohs.ca/topics/wellness/stress/#:~:text=Workplace%20stress%20is%20the%20harmful,has%20over%20meeting%20these%20demands

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Disclaimer: This article is intended to supply general information to the public. We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of this information. However, as laws change quickly, the reader should always ensure the accuracy and applicability of such information with respect to their particular case. The information contained in this article cannot replace a thorough and complete review of the reader’s situation by competent legal counsel who has had an opportunity to review all of the facts.