Q&A: Stressed Employee

Can we direct a stressed employee to take personal leave?

We have an employee who is having mood swings and showing the signs of stress

This is concerning for us as it is having an impact on her work performance and the performance of other employees.

This employee is responsible for leading a team of about four people.

Can we ask her to take personal leave to rest?

What’s the best way to deal with this? 


The only way you can “require” an employee to take personal leave is if their doctor provides a certificate stating that they are unfit for work.

“Requiring” an employee to take leave should be one of the last things that you are thinking of. Going down this path is likely to damage the relationship between you and the employee, and that isn’t something that anyone wants.

Instead, I would suggest that you have a discussion with them about taking a few days off. If the stress is work related, the time off may help them.

If it is their workload, offer to temporarily change things.

If it is something outside of work, then see if there is any way that you can help them manage things.

This could be something as easy as reminding them of the Employee Assistance Program.

When it comes to giving them time off, tell them the can take the few days at the company’s expense, rather than using their personal leave. If they are hesitant to take the time off due to a loss of penalty rates or allowances, let them keep them.

Yes, it may cost you a few dollars, though think of how much it will cost you if the employee leaves, or causes other employees to leave.

While there are any number of things that could cause an employee to be stressed at work, there are also a long list of things that you as an employer can do to help reduce it.

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