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Stress is not just a buzzword. Stress can be personal or workplace generated. There is good stress and bad stress, but the stress that affects most employees is workplace stress. Work stress is now the leading cause of worker disability in Canada.
Workplace stress is usually a result of a combination of high demands and pressures and having little control over those demands.
Did you know that stress-related absences:
According to The Canadian Mental Health Association learning to recognize stress is essential because excessive stress has been linked to infectious diseases and cardiovascular problems, higher incidence of back pain, repetitive strain injuries, and cancer.
An employer has a duty to investigate when there are obvious signs of stress. The "don't ask, don't tell" policy may not be sufficient for the case of preventing stress-related illnesses in the view of labour boards or Human Rights Commission. When it comes to employers' responsibility towards preventing stress-related illnesses, The Human Rights Commission has become quite assertive in its expectations regarding the prevention and alleviation of stress-related absences. Employers are expected to be vigilant and proactive.
Any employer has a duty to accommodate employees experiencing stress. (This includes personal stressors if it affects work performance).
Employers often will not get full disclosure on a note from the doctor when it comes to stress or other mental disabilities. Employees usually feel these types of illnesses are very personal and are attached with a stigma.
As an employer, you have the right to get reasonable medical details from the employee as it relates to your ability to accommodate their illness.
If, as an employer you believe the medical information is unsatisfactory, you have a right to ask for clarification or further information. However, it is your responsibility to explain to the employee why it is unsatisfactory, exactly what information you need to know and why. Any request for additional medical information by an employer should be paid for by the employer.
You can only use medical information to manage the absence and accommodate the employee. When collecting medical information, you must keep privacy in mind.
As an employer you can accommodate stress with the same approach you use for visible disabilities. Some or all of the following accommodations may be required:
Employers are required to provide reasonable accommodation, not ideal accommodation. As an employer you are entitled to explore options of accommodation.
Keep in mind accommodation is NOT
Please see Accommodations at Work: Rights, Obligations and Best Practices under NB's Workers' Compensation Act, Employment Standards Act, Human Rights Act for additional information.