What are Employees' Right to Stress Leave?

Written by S. Arteta and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

Workplace Stress pertains to harmful and emotional responses that a worker usually encounters while on the job. This kind of stress usually occurs when the requirements of a job do not match the capabilities, resources, or needs of the employee. Workplace stress could be manifested in a number of ways and could lead to poor health and even injury. Experts also agree that workplace stress is the result of the interaction of the employee with his co-workers and with the job condition.

Due to the increasing harmful effects of workplace stress to the employees, the government implemented the Revised Family and Medical Leave Act or FMLA. Under the FMLA, employees who claim leave based on their own medical condition such as "stress", must show that the leave is: (1) the result of a serious health condition and (2) that said condition makes the employee unable to perform the functions of his or her job.

If the employee fails to show any of these elements, he shall not be entitled to FMLA leave.

Under the FMLA, mental illness, which is one of the basis of applications for leave by employees, pertains to an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves inpatient care or continuing treatment by a health care provider. The law also states that if the employee did not receive inpatient treatment, he must show that he received treatment from a health service provider and that he was incapacitated to work for 3 consecutive calendar days. Failure to comply with the above requirement will deprive the employee from being entitled to an FMLA leave.

Showing proof that the employee was incapacitated to work and perform his job is not enough to be entitled to an FMLA leave. The law explicitly provides that the employee must have received "continuing treatment" for the condition. Said continuing treatment, according to the rulings of the court, must relate back to the condition that initially caused the incapacity to work.

Filing for an FMLA leave only requires notice to the employer. A leave request 30- day notice must be sent to the employer in order for the leave to be approved. Also, medical certification must be submitted to the employer. A medical practitioner must attest that the employee suffers from a serious medical condition and explain how such condition impairs the employee's ability to perform his work. The report must also include the required treatment. This certification can either be issued by the employee's physician or a mental health specialist.

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