What happens if you need to take time off work?

May 4, 2017

Working when you are dealing with mental health challenges can be very difficult. It may also lead to other problems at work. If you are feeling depressed and overwhelmed, for example, you may find yourself not responding at your usual speed or falling farther behind in your work. Or you may simply be unable to face your regular tasks.

If you have sick days available, it’s better to take them than to try and push through when you are not feeling well. If your mental health care requires more time off, talk to the human resources department and find out what kind of sick time or short-term disability leave is available to you. You will likely need a doctor’s note if you have to take a longer time off work, but it will depend on your employer’s policies.

If you don’t have short-term disability, consider applying for Employment Insurance Sickness Benefits. EI sickness benefits will cover you for up to 15 weeks if you are temporarily not able to work because of illness, including mental illness. Find out more about applying for EI Sickness Benefits.     

Many workers believe they have to tell their employer the reason that they are seeking time off work. This is not true. Your personal medical information is private, and you have the right to the privacy of your diagnosis, but you will need to let your employer know of any limitations you have in returning to work. 

Two examples would be:

  • You have a lot of fatigue and so need shorter hours temporarily; or 
  • You have trouble concentrating with a lot of noise and need a quiet place to work temporarily.