Stress Leave

stressed employee

Are you considering taking a stress leave from work? It's an increasingly common solution to the problem of job-related anxiety, but it can be difficult to know when the right time is and how to approach your employer.

In this aticle post, we'll talk about the basics of taking a stress leave:

  • What does it mean for you and your career?
  • How long does it usually lasts?
  • What steps do you need to take to ensure everything runs as smoothly as possible?

With that said - let's dive into all things related to stress leaves!

What is a stress leave?

Stress leave is when an employee takes a break from work to focus on dealing with stress or anxiety. This can include taking time off for mental health reasons, such as depression, burnout, Mental health symptoms or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or just for work-related stress.

This type of leave can be paid or unpaid, depending on the employer's policy. Sometimes, employers may offer stress leave as part of a company's employee assistance program or other benefits packages. In simple words, there are unpaid and paid sick leave, depending on the situation.

Latest research about stress at workplace

Recent studies have shown that stress in the workplace is on the rise. Almost 40% of employees experience stress symptoms, such as fatigue and exhaustion, leading to decreased productivity and lower morale.

Moreover, stress can cause physical ailments like headaches, insomnia, stomach problems, and muscle tension. Employers need to recognize stress and help support employees who are struggling.

Most common causes of stress at the workplace

From financial to personal problems, there can be many reasons why an individual might request stress leave. Here are some of the most frequent causes seen in workplaces:

Workplace bullying/unfair treatment

Harassment or bullying in the workplace can cause stress and anxiety. Unfair treatment from supervisors or co-workers may also lead to stress and feelings of powerlessness and isolation.

Unrealistic expectations

Setting too high or unrealistic expectations can add stress to an employee's life. This could include giving someone an impossible deadline or not providing enough resources or support to do their job effectively.


If a company is understaffed, it puts extra stress on the team members that are already there. This can also lead to employees feeling overwhelmed from having too much work.

Heavy workload

Too much work on your plate can overwhelm an employee, feeling stressed and exhausted. This could include an increased workload, tight deadlines, and long hours with no breaks.

Dysfunctional work-life balance

When an employee is expected to work long hours and is not given enough time for rest, it can lead to stress and burnout. This can also lead to feelings of resentment towards their employer.

How long does a stress leave last?

The length of stress leave depends on the individual situation and is ultimately up to your employer. In some cases, a stress leave can last for one week or even one month, while in other cases, it may go on for longer periods.

Signs you should take a stress leave from work.

The symptoms of stress can be categorized as physical symptoms and emotional symptoms:

Physical symptoms

Stress can trigger physical symptoms, from exhaustion to restlessness and insomnia. Be sure to look out for any of these warning signs so that you can address the issue before it gets worse.

Individuals who suffer from intense stress often resort to binge eating or drinking and may even start using drugs desperately trying to cope. 

Some additional physical symptoms of stress may include:

  • Fatigue 
  • Muscle tension
  • Headaches 
  • Heart palpitations 
  • Digestive problems

Emotional symptoms

Stress can devastate people, making them feel isolated and overwhelmed. Additionally, workplace pressures may cause you to wake up with anxiety every day, struggle to find enthusiasm for the morning hours ahead, and abandon activities that used to bring you joy.

Here are some signs that may indicate you need to take time off:

  • Feeling overwhelmed or anxious
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Insomnia or other sleep difficulties
  • Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Uncontrollable negative thoughts and feelings.

Taking stress leaves can give employees a chance to take a step back and focus on their mental health. It can also allow employers to assess any issues within their Workplace and make changes to create a more healthy and more productive working environment.

Who is eligible for a stress leave?

Every company has its policy when it comes to stress leave eligibility. However, most employees are eligible for a stress leave if they can demonstrate an issue within their Workplace that is causing them stress and mental health issues.

However, some companies may require an employee to provide medical evidence to be eligible for stress leave. This can include medical documentation of mental stress or physical symptoms related to stress, such as exhaustion or headaches.

Why is stress leave important?

Here are the reasons why they are important:

Care for mental health

Stress leave is important because it gives employees the time to care for their mental health. Mental health should not be taken lightly, as it can affect an individual's overall well-being.

Prevent burnout:

Taking stress leave can help to prevent burnout and exhaustion. Burnout often happens when an individual is overworked and has no time to rest and relax. This can lead to resentment and result in decreased productivity and lower morale.

To increase productivity

It can also help them to become more productive, as taking time off from work often leads to a fresh perspective and more creative ideas.

To prevent serious health problems

In a state of stress, your body responds adaptively by releasing hormones like cortisol and epinephrine. These hormones constrict the blood vessels, raise heart rate levels, and boost glucose production, creating a defensive response to any possible danger.

Chronic stress can lead to numerous health issues, such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Lowered immune system
  • Weight gain

How to request a stress leave in 5 steps

1. Speak to your supervisor

Speak to your supervisor and explain the situation in detail. Let them know you need a stress leave from work and why. This could be your supervisor or the HR team.

2. Ask for an information package

Your employer should provide you with an information package about applying for a stress leave, including any forms or paperwork that need to be filled out.

3. Consult your healthcare provider:

Your healthcare provider can help you understand the stress and anxiety that you're going through and provide insight into how best to manage it. They will also be able to provide a medical note if necessary.

4. Gather supporting documents

Gather any supporting documents that may help your case, such as a doctor's note and medical history. This will help to explain why you need the stress leave from work.

5. Submit your request

Submit your request for a stress leave in writing. Make sure to include all of the necessary documentation and information requested by your employer.

Do you get paid for stress leave?

According to the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), if you have a "serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job," you are entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave.

Nonetheless, the FMLA only applies to organizations with more than 50 employees within a 75-mile vicinity of their Workplace. Moreover, workers must earn at least 1,250 hours to be eligible for this legislation.

How can HR department reduce stress in the workplace?

HR departments can reduce stress at the workplace in many ways, including:

Having an open-door policy for employees to voice their concerns

With an open-door policy, employees can talk to their managers or HR department about any problems they face. This allows for a more open dialogue between the employer and employee and helps build a stronger relationship.

Give employees opportunities to provide feedback through:

  • Employee engagement surveys
  • Pulse surveys
  • Performance development survey

Providing stress management resources

Offering mental health days, flexible work schedules, and other stress-relieving activities can help employees manage their stress levels.

Offering health insurance benefits

Having an adequate health insurance plan that covers mental and physical health issues can help employees feel more secure in knowing they have access to the care they need.

Educating employees about mental health

Educating employees on mental health topics such as stress management, self-care, and how recognizing signs of mental illness are all important for creating a healthy work environment.

Reduce workload

Collaborating with managers, making their workloads more manageable, facilitating the redistribution of tasks, and exploring ways to adjust working hours or consider alternative roles that are less taxing on employees.

Initiate employee assistance programs (EAPs)

An EAP can help employees access mental health services, including confidential counseling, workplace stress management, financial assistance, and more. This type of program helps employees by providing them with the resources they need to manage stress and access confidential counseling when needed.

By following these tips, employers and HR departments can take steps toward reducing stress in the Workplace and ensuring their employees' well-being. Taking proactive measures to provide support and resources to those dealing with mental health issues is essential for creating an inclusive and supportive workplace.

Benefits of taking a stress leave from work

Taking a stress leave from work can be beneficial for employees in several ways:

  • A chance to take care of their physical and mental health:  Taking a break from work can help provide an opportunity to focus on one's physical and mental well-being without the stress of their day-to-day job.
  • Time to reassess: Taking a stress leave allows employees to take stock of their lives, evaluate career choices, and refocus their energies.
  • Time to reconnect with friends and family:  Taking a break from work can help employees reconnect with their friends and family and make time for activities they normally don't have the opportunity to do.
  • Increased productivity: Employees often return refreshed and more productive after taking stress leave. This allows them to be more efficient when returning to work.

Limitations of taking a stress leave

Although stress leave can be beneficial, it is important to remember that there are limitations to taking a stress leave from work.

  • It can negatively affect one's career: Taking time off may affect the employee's career path and advancement opportunities.
  • It can impact relationships at the workplace: Stress leaves can also impact relationships with current and future managers, colleagues, and clients.
  • It can be financially challenging: Taking a stress leave may not always be an option for employees due to financial constraints. Employees should consider the costs of taking a stress leave before committing to doing so.


Taking a stress leave from work can benefit employees in many ways. However, it is important to remember the limitations of this type of leave.

Employers should also consider providing resources and programs to help employees manage stress and maintain mental health.

Through these initiatives, employers can create an environment that values mental health and encourages employees to take a stress leave if necessary.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Yes, employers can deny a stress leave if it is not part of their company policy or the employee does not have sufficient grounds to take a stress leave. Employees should discuss their reasons for taking a stress leave with their employer before requesting one.

  • Employees can reduce stress at work by engaging in stress management activities such as developing a healthy work-life balance, delegating tasks to other employees, and taking regular breaks. They can also take advantage of any stress leave or mental health benefits offered by their employer.

  • Employees should talk to their manager or HR department about taking stress leave. Depending on the company policy and the employee's circumstances, they may be able to get approval for stress leave.

Rinaily Bonifacio

Written by:

Rinaily Bonifacio

Rinaily is a renowned expert in the field of human resources with years of industry experience. With a passion for writing high-quality HR content, Rinaily brings a unique perspective to the challenges and opportunities of the modern workplace. As an experienced HR professional and content writer, She has contributed to leading publications in the field of HR.


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