Stress Leave: Legitimate or Escape Tactic?

Is “stress” a legitimate illness, or just a cover for poor performance?

Workplace stress is a common problem, and it is also incredibly expensive for Canadian businesses as employees seek paid time off and medical benefits to treat their stress. While the employers I speak with are committed to helping their employees who are facing legitimate illness, a growing concern for many bosses is how sick-leave benefits are being unfairly exploited by some poorly performing employees.

Employers often tell the same story. They inform an underperforming employee they want to speak to them about their performance. A meeting is set up, but the next day there is a message on the employer’s machine: the employee won’t be coming into work because they are sick, and a doctor’s note is on its way. When the note arrives, it is short and vague, and states the employee will be off work for the next month due to stress.

The employer’s obvious concern is that the employee just doesn’t want to face the consequences of their poor performance. Unfortunately, the law makes it difficult to determine whether the absence is legitimate.

In this article, Rob Sider, a lawyer and partner at Lawson Lundell LLP in Vancouver, suggests ways to protect employers from being exploited by illegitimate stress-leave requests, deciphering stress leave and limiting sick-leave benefits.

To view the full original article, please visit the BCBusiness website: Stress Leave: Legitimate or Escape Tactic?

By Rob Side, a lawyer and partner at Lawson Lundell LLP in Vancouver. Article excerpted with the permission from BCBusiness Online.