Careers | Do you want to leave work because of stress?

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If you are thinking of taking time off work due to stress, you are not alone. Work-related stress is the second most frequent reason for people taking time off.

Everyone faces stress at different stages and at different levels in their working life. In many cases, such occasions tend to pass or you learn to adopt various mechanisms to deal with stress.

However, there can come a point where you simply cannot take the stress anymore and want to leave.

Your support will depend on your organisation. A recent report found that almost half of larger organisations have procedures for dealing with psychosocial risks. Unfortunately, the proportion of smaller organisations with measures in place is only 20%-30%.

An employer has a general common law duty of care to prevent bullying and stress in the workplace.

The HSA (Health Safety Authority) defines workplace stress as “when the demands of the job and the working environment on a person exceeds their capacity to meet them” and identifies a range of situations which can cause stress in the workplace including poor communication, poor working relationships, ill-defined work roles, and others.

If you feel overwhelmed, you should communicate your issues with your line manager or someone else of a senior level that you can confide in. It is best to have a record of various issues or situations that is causing you to be stressed so your employers can understand your position better.

Employers are more aware and supportive of employee well being. They may try to reschedule your workload, or get you more support.

Suggest that you want to take some time out due to work-related stress. As its categorised under sick leave, you will have to get a doctor’s letter for the length of your absence to ensure you get paid.

If you are ill during your annual leave and have a medical certificate for the days you were ill, these sick days will not be counted as annual leave days. Instead, you can use these days as annual leave at a later date.

An employer cannot require you to take annual leave for a certified period of illness. New legislation also means that employees on long-term sick leave can retain annual leave they could not take due to illness for up to 15 months after the end of the year in which it is accrued.

During your time off, keep your employers informed of when you plan to return. More importantly, take this time to assess whether this job is for you and what you want to achieve when you return, or in your next role.