Stress Leave Under New Ontario Sick Leave Rules - Diamond and Diamond Lawyers

Stress Leave Under New Ontario Sick Leave Rules


Changes in the law may have cost Ontario workers their 10 days of emergency leave, two of which were with pay each year. Under the new legislation, the paid days under emergency leave have been replaced by three sick days, two bereavement days and three family leave days. Employment contracts could grant workers more leave days, including paid leave, than the legislation permits. While stress leave is technically not a form of leave recognized under the law, an employee in need of time off from work may have options even under the new rules.

When stress at work becomes unbearable

A study found that stress was the reason given by 25 percent of Canadian workers for quitting their jobs. The statistic is even more alarming because another 17 percent of employees considered quitting because of stress.

Main causes of stress at work appear to be the burden of a heavy workload and office politics with younger employees and those at the lower range of the income scale appeared to be the ones most likely to feel the effects of stress at work. In Ontario, 61 percent of individuals interviewed by researchers acknowledged their workload caused them to suffer from work-related stress.

Signs you might be experiencing stress at work

If you experience any of the following signs of a stress over a prolonged period of time, you should take steps to identify and eliminate or limit your exposure to the cause:

  • Impaired concentration
  • Drop in productivity
  • Fatigue
  • Reluctant to participate in social events and activities
  • Depression, anxiety and irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Headaches
  • Heart palpitations
  • Digestive issues
  • Over eating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Drinking or smoking more than usual

The Ontario law protects you from dismissal, suspension, discipline or lay off if your physical or mental condition requires that you take a stress-related sick leave from work.

sick leave canada

WSIB benefits during stress leave

The Ontario government recognizes the detrimental effect mental stress has on workers. The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board provides benefits to individuals diagnosed with chronic mental stress related to conditions at their jobs.

Eligibility for WSIB benefits for chronic mental stress depends upon the disorder being diagnosed by a medical professional. It must be predominantly related to factors or conditions to which you are exposed at your place of work, and they must be substantial in the sense that minor annoyances with company policies would not be sufficient to qualify for benefits.

Examples of the types of work-related situations that could cause chronic mental stress as defined by the WSIB include:

  • Workplace sexual harassment
  • A pattern of demeaning remarks or comments by managers or supervisors
  • Bullying or threatening behaviours by other workers or managers

Disciplinary action taken against you by an employer for violations of company policies and rules generally would not be a basis for claiming WSIB benefits even if the action causes you to suffer from chronic mental stress.

Benefits for work-related chronic stress include the psychological evaluation and treatment, prescribed medications and income replacement for time lost from work due to the condition. Determining whether you are entitled to stress leave and the benefits available to you may require the services of a lawyer experienced in stress-related disorders and stress leave claims.

Ontario stress leave lawyers

The personal injury lawyers at Diamond and Diamond have years of experience successfully handling claims for compensation on behalf individuals with all types of physical and mental injuries and disorders, including those related to stress. Learn more about your right to recover compensation by speaking with one of our lawyers. Call the Diamond and Diamond 24/7 injury hotline at 1-800-567-HURT or visit our website to speak to someone now. We have offices located throughout Ontario offering free consultations and case evaluations to injury victims and their families.

FAQ Stress Leave Under New Ontario Sick Leave Rules

How Can You Prove Work Related Stress?

You can prove work-related stress, but it is not easy to do so. That is why it is a good idea to keep a personal diary, emails, and notes about your worklife. If you do that, you will be able to pinpoint when conditions at work, or changes, lead to your being put under too much pressure. In the hands of the right lawyer, this type of information can be invaluable and help you to win compensation.

Is Stress Considered a Work Related Injury?

Stress is considered a work-related injury. Just like with other injuries it is possible to claim compensation. You will need to provide some evidence to do so. These cases are quite complicated. So, it is important that you hire a lawyer that has experience in dealing with this situation. Often, they will be able to negotiate a settlement with your employer, so you do not have to go through the stress of taking them to court.

Can Stress Cause a Brain Injury?

To date, nobody has conclusively proved that stress can cause a brain injury. At least not one that fits into the currently recognized categories of brain injuries. However, it has been proven that chronic stress can impair brain function and cause what is viewed as low-level damage. For example, research carried out by the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science discovered that stress kills off neurons in certain areas of the brain.

Do you get paid for stress leave in Ontario?

Sick leave is not paid under the Employment Standards Act, meaning employers don’t have to pay people on a stress leave. Employers are however allowed to pay employees on a stress leave if they choose to do so. In Ontario, many employers provide for sick pay in their contracts. There are other ways to make up for the lost pay. There is disability insurance leave that covers an employee in case they have a short-term disability. It allows them to collect their pay even when they are on stress leave. So in Ontario, getting paid on a stress leave depends on your employer and the insurance policy they have in place.

How do you know if you're stressed at work?

When you feel things are getting out of hand at work, you lose confidence and may be agitated, feeling angry. You might also feel withdrawn, irritable and not able to function properly. Other signs of excessive stress at work include feeling anxious, depressed, apathy and loss of interest in work. Health experts recommend that you should not continue pushing yourself into work because it could lead to severe consequences. When in such a situation, ask for a few days off work and rest. As much as your employer might not pay for the days off, it is good for your own health.

Is stress leave covered under WSIB?

Under the law, the Ontario government recognizes the detrimental impact mental stress can have on workers. The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board provides benefits to an individual that has been diagnosed with a form of chronic stress related to conditions at work. These conditions are not healthy and the government has put measures in place to take care of them.

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