Can My Employer Dismiss Me for Absence Due to Stress?

Take stress breaks without losing your job.
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No matter where you work, there is usually a certain level of stress involved. However, continuous stress, to the point that you are experiencing anxiety or depression, is not normal. Depending upon your boss, if you take too many “stress breaks” from work, it can result in job loss. In certain rare instances, you may qualify to take temporary leave without worrying about job security.


    Under the Family Medical Leave Act, you are allowed to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off to tend to your own serious health condition or the health condition of an immediate family member. When you take time off under FMLA, your job is protected. Although your employer can’t dismiss you due to an FMLA stress-related absence, she can proceed with a scheduled layoff, as long as the layoff was unavoidable and has nothing to do with your FMLA.

Professionally Verified

    Whether or not the stress is considered a serious health condition all depends upon your doctor’s diagnosis. If a physician provides written documentation verifying that you are required to take time off from work due to stress, your employer might accept this. For instance, the physician might write a letter stating that you need to take time off from work just to rest. If your physician suggests intermittent breaks from work, you may qualify for intermittent FMLA. Under intermittent leave, you provide the employer with advance notice of the days you intend to miss work.

Worker's Compensation

    In some states, you can use worker’s compensation insurance benefits to take time off from work due to psychological stress. To take time off under worker’s comp insurance, you must be able to prove that the psychological stress you are experiencing began and continues to re-occur due to your job. This requires a psychological evaluation. Although you have a right to visit your own doctor, you may also be required to see a psychologist who specializes in worker’s compensation claims. Once approved, your employer can not dismiss you due to a stress-related absence.

Requesting Time Off

    To request time off under FMLA, visit your human resources coordinator to request an FMLA application. To qualify for FMLA, you must be a full-time employee, with at least 1,250 hours during the year leading up to your FMLA request. To request time off under worker’s compensation, simply file a worker’s comp claim through your employer. In many cases, FMLA and worker’s compensation claim forms are also available on the state’s Department of Labor website.

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