Articles > Employment

Can my Employees apply for Stress Leave?

February 8, 2022   Ava AkbarianPhilip Evangelou

Workplace conditions and arrangements may significantly impact an employee’s mental health. Reports found that mental health conditions are prevalent in Australian workplaces with 33% of financial and insurance employees experiencing mental health issues.

Common causes of work-related stress include:

  • Organisation culture;
  • Lack of support from management; 
  • Changes within the company;
  • Insecurity in role;
  • Trauma; or 
  • Workplace harassment, bullying or relationships.

Using personal leave for mental health days

Whilst there is no category for ‘stress leave’ in Australia, the Fair Work Ombudsman allows for ‘sick leave’ or ‘personal leave’.

“This can include stress or pregnancy related illnesses”.

Fair work ombudsman, Australian government

Employees are entitled to take personal leave caused by stress.

Do I need to tell my employer?

Some people may be uncomfortable discussing mental health issues with their employer. Whether or not you wish to disclose your reasons for leave is a personal choice. 

There is no legal requirement to tell your employer unless your challenges endanger the safety of yourself or your colleagues. According to Headspace, this may include the ability to operate heavy machinery or make decisions.

However, you may be required to provide a medical certificate for any personal or sick leave depending on your employment contract.

Can I have workers compensation for stress?

An employee may also make a workers compensation claim for stress or psychological injury.

For a stress claim to be successful the injury must be solely caused or aggravated by your work, which may be difficult to prove.

Common injuries include Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression and anxiety.

It is important to seek medical help early to assist with your wellbeing and provide a basis for the claim.

How much time off can I take?

Stress Leave

The amount of stress leave employees are entitled to depends on the specific employment contract which entails how many hours of personal leave employees have. 

According to the National Employment Standards, full-time employees are entitled to 10 days, and pro-rata for part-time employees which is calculated as 1:26 of an employee’s work hours in a year.

Workers Compensation

Employees may be given a significant amount of time off if their workers compensation claim was successful.

The claim will allow for paid time off and treatment and depending on the severity of the illness, an employee may be entitled to claim a lump sum.


  • Work related stress is becoming more common amongst Australians
  • Employees are entitled to sick leave or personal leave caused by stress
  • Employees may also make a claim for workers compensation if their psychological condition is solely caused by work.
  • The amount of leave employees can obtain depends on the personal leave hours specified in their employment contract, or the severity of the workers compensation claim.

It is important to seek personalised legal advice when looking to make a claim and avoid any further psychological distress. To speak to one of our expert lawyers, please fill out the form on this page or call 1300 337 997.

About Ava Akbarian

Ava AkbarianAva works in the legal content team at OpenLegal while studying in her fourth year of Bachelor of Laws and Communications (Journalism) at the University of Technology Sydney. Her interests are legal reporting, court reporting and medical law.

About Philip Evangelou

phillipPhil is a director at OpenLegal. He has over 16 years experience working in private practice and in-house counsel in Sydney and London, giving him expertise in employment law, IP, finance, leases, dispute resolution, insurance and contracts.