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Stress Leave NSW – Your Guide

If you’re stressed, it can be incredibly difficult to continue to do your job, and it can have a major impact on your overall health and wellbeing. But what happens if your job is causing the stress? What are your stress leave NSW entitlements, and can you make a workers compensation claim for stress leave? In this article, we explain everything you need to know about stress leave in NSW, including an explanation of the rules around Workcover claims for stress.

Can you claim stress leave?

According to Fair Work Australia: “An employee can take paid sick leave when they can’t work because of a personal illness or injury. This can include stress and pregnancy-related illnesses.”

In other words, if you have a stress-related illness, your employer should allow you to take paid sick leave. However, while this might provide some short-term respite, it’s not a solution for longer-term stress-related illnesses that require treatment and may require longer breaks from work.

How long can you go on stress leave in NSW?

Stress leave NSW entitlements are to some extent determined by your employment contract. If you’re taking sick leave due to a stress-related illness, the length of time you can take will depend on your annual sick leave allowance and any further leave allowances that your employer offers. Many NSW workers get two weeks sick leave allowance every year, but it varies from one employment contract to another.

However, if you make a successful workers compensation claim for a stress-related illness that was caused by your job, you might be entitled to a significant amount of paid time off without using up your sick leave, as well as a range of other benefits to help you with your treatment and recovery.

Do you get paid for stress leave in NSW?

There are several ways you can get paid stress leave or compensation for stress-related illnesses in NSW:

  1. You can take paid sick leave (under your leave entitlements).
  2. If you have a diagnosed stress-related illness caused by your job, you can get workers compensation (often referred to as a Workcover claim) to cover your wages and treatment while you’re off work.
  3. Depending on the severity of your illness, you might be able to claim lump sum for permanent impairment.
  4. If your illness was caused by your employer’s negligence, you might be able to sue for a Work Injury Damages lump sum.
  5. If you can’t return to your job, you might also be entitled to a TPD lump sum payment through your superannuation fund.

Can you claim workers compensation / Workcover for stress?

You can’t make a Workcover claim for stress. But if you have a stress-related condition, which is referred to as a psychological injury, then you may be able to make a claim. So it’s important that your GP correctly diagnoses your psychological condition on your certificate of capacity – for example, ‘Adjustment Disorder’. Your claim will be declined if the doctor refers to your injury as “stress”.

You’ll need to show that you have a diagnosed psychological condition that has been caused by a particular event or series of events at work, or that work was a significant contributing factor to your condition.

The most common stress-related workers compensation claims in NSW are for:

Some examples of the events that can cause these conditions include:

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How do you claim workers compensation for stress leave?

Insurers often deny psychological injury claims on the basis that the psychological injury occurred as a result of reasonable actions by management. However, a specialist workers compensation lawyer can look into the circumstances of your injury more deeply, often finding that management’s actions were in fact unreasonable, and liability is then accepted by the insurer.


How do you prove work-related stress?

To make a Workcover claim you need to prove:


This can be difficult to prove, but a specialist workers compensation lawyer can build the evidence to support your claim. Building the evidence may include:

Stress claims – unreasonable management: John worked in a supermarket, and after enduring bullying and harassment he lodged a workers compensation claim. The insurer denied his claim, on the basis that the employer’s actions were reasonable. John asked Law Partners if we could help, and we obtained statements from his former co-workers that showed how John was treated compared to other employees. As a result, we were able to prove the employer’s actions were not reasonable, successfully overturn the insurer’s decision and claim all the compensation John was entitled to.


How long can you claim Workcover for stress-related injuries in NSW?

Generally, your weekly workers compensation payments in NSW will continue until:

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Can I sue for work-related stress?

You can’t sue for stress, however if you have a diagnosed psychological injury that was the result of negligence by your employer, you might be entitled to sue your employer for a Work Injury Damages lump sum. To be eligible for this lump sum, you’ll need to:

Although this may look like a daunting process, a specialist workers compensation lawyer who understands psychological claims can take care of the whole process for you. And if you choose a firm that works on a no win no fee basis, there’s no up-front cost to pursue your claim.


Can you be sacked when you’re on workers compensation or stress leave?

The NSW Workers Compensation Act 1987, Part 8, essentially prevents employers from terminating an employee who has sustained a work injury of any kind, purely because they’re unfit to resume work within the first six months. During this ‘protected period’, if an employer terminates an injured worker’s employment because they’re not fit for employment because of the injury, then the employer may be liable to pay a fine of up to $11,000.


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