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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 well-being. And the situation can be so much worse when your workplace is the cause of your stress, whether it’s being overworked, bullied, harassed, or a combination of factors.

So, what are your options for taking a much-needed break? In this article we explain everything you need to know about stress leave entitlements in NSW, including an explanation of how you may be entitled to make a Workcover claim for stress.

Stress Leave NSW – Your Guide.

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 conditions 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’re an employee or contractor dealing with a stress-related illness, 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. The NSW workers compensation scheme provides benefits to support you if you have a diagnosed psychological illness that was caused by work-related stress.

Read on to learn how you might qualify for these benefits, and how to get help with getting paid stress leave approved.

How 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 (also called a psychological injury) caused by your job, you can get workers compensation to cover your wages and treatment while you’re off work. This is sometimes referred to as a Workcover stress leave.
  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.

If you think you might have a psychological injury caused by stress, or if you’d like to know if you’re entitled to lumps sums for permanent impairment or work injury damages, you can call 13 15 15 and get free legal advice.


How can you claim workers compensation / Workcover for stress?

To make a Workcover claim for stress, you need to have been diagnosed with a qualifying stress-related condition, which is referred to as a psychological injury. 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:

Find out how much you can claim.

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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?

According to Beyond Blue, potential stress triggers include family or relationship breakdowns, financial problems, health concerns, caring for a new-born baby and traumatic events.* So with so many potential causes, how do you prove you have 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.

*https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/staying-well/reducing-stress


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

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

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.

Need help?

If you’re suffering from stress-related condition caused by your job, Law Partners can help you find out if you’re eligible for compensation, paid time off work and payments to cover your treatment costs.  We’ll also advise you on whether you can claim lump sum compensation. There’s no cost to speak to one of our specialist workers compensation lawyers and find out about your options.


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