Should I take stress leave from work?

Here is the situation:

  1. I am trying to get pregnant and am very, very stressed out about the situation, which apparently isn’t a good thing for getting pregnant.
  2. I am having some issues at work where people are spreading false gossip about me and no one, including me boss, seems to be doing anything about it.
  3. My therapist has (strongly) suggested I take a month or two off of work to re-evaluate my life/goals/hopefully get pregnant.
  4. I’m in Canada (Alberta) and can take stress leave if I get a doctor’s note (which I can). I have done this once in the past for a month.

I’m on the fence. I was against it until a meeting with my boss this morning, and now I’m considering it because of the continued issues with people around this office.

I’d also feel like an ass taking ‘stress leave’ tbh. The time I did it before, I really needed it, as I entered an outpatient rehab program for alcohol and couldn’t have done it without time to focus on myself and recovery.

What’d’ya think?

From your point 3+4 I’d say: Yes. Do it - take stress leave. Your therapist advises it, and you can do it without losing your job. You might only need a month now - if you wait another month before you do it, you might need four.

My wife went through something like this in 2009. She (we) realized the seriousness of it too late, and she had to leave work for about 6 months as a result. Stress is not fun…

I have 2 questions …

  1. Suppose you do get pregnant (YAY!) The stress at work continues - then what? More leave? (I’m not in Canada so I don’t know how things work up there.)

  2. If you do take leave how are you paying bills in the meantime?

  3. What would Opal do?

  1. I would tough it out until my maternity leave kicks in, which is one year. If I can’t tough it out, I’ll take leave.

  2. I get paid short term disability, so I make the same salary, or close to.

  3. Hi, Opal!

Oh, actually, just checked with the hubby - I won’t make my salary. I have to check on this.

I just found the policy - I can take two months at full salary, then four more at 70% salary. I was looking for probably six weeks away.

Sounds like the right choice then. It probably won’t help the gossip situation, but fuck 'em.

Do it.

I would do it if it wouldn’t jeopardize the job.

The only part I’d worry about are the reactions of your coworkers and your boss. If your coworkers are already gossiping, they’ll continue to do so, and if you get pregnant soon, they’ll go into overdrive. And I know your boss can’t do anything to you legally here in Canada, but he might get miffed enough to try and make it worth it for you to leave your job. I worked at a small business where my boss was the owner, and was shocked when I heard him say he wished he never had to bring my coworker back from mat leave and wanted to keep her mat leave replacement.

Wow, you Canadians get nice leave benefits.

skammer, FMLA Administrator

After your second month-long stress leave, be prepared for your employer scrupulously to document your every absence, tardiness, extended break, error, omission, split infinitive, and typo. That’s because they’ll be builidng a record to substantiate their good cause for terminating you as soon as they feel they can.

Seems like you’re better off either toughing it out or leaving now and getting a decent reference.

My other leave wasn’t with this company, and this company knows nothing about my previous leave.

If it was me my first instinct would be to find another job. I understand that there may be reasons why this is not any option, including the crappy economy, but if you do take leave, won’t the same problems exist when you go back to work? They may have even gotten worse.

What was your experience with the other company post-leave? Did it have a bearing on why you’re no longer employed with them?

I’m not saying this to bust your balls. I’m just saying that sometimes leave laws and Human Rights Commissions are full of big ideas and stories and nowhere to be found when you’re left holding the bag.

I think Kimmy’s right: it already sounds like this workplace isn’t a good fit and won’t be getting any better. Taking time away would be a short-term solution that won’t solve anything in the long term. My $0.02 is that you either (a) work to resolve the problems at work instead of running away from them, however justified that running may be, because they’ll just be waiting for you (ampliphied) when you return; or (b) start looking for a new job now instead of when questions about your dedication will be met with, “I dunno, she’s always taking time off.”

Thanks for the input guys.

When I came back from my leave at my last job, everything was exactly the same. I didn’t take that leave for anything related to work, and it had no bearing on my leaving the company (I left to take the job I currently have).

The issues at work are about 10% of the reason I’d want to take leave. The only reason I’m considering it is because my therapist suggested it, I hadn’t thought of it prior to that. She thinks I’m way too stressed out about this fertility stuff and I really, really need to find a way to back off and relax.

You are right about the situation upon my return, however. I don’t know how that’ll pan out. Looking for another job isn’t an option at this moment - if I did get a new job, we’d have to put the whole fertility process on hold, which is expensive and even more stressful. I have to be with a new company for a certain amount of time before I can receive benefits. I had been looking for a job last fall, and had a few interviews, but nothing worked out, unfortunately.

I think it’s absolutely ridiculous.

I’d say take it then.

A few thoughts here; I don’t think you have a future at this job. It doesn’t sound like you’re a good fit for whatever reason; I do think this leave will be different, in that the gossip will escalate once you’re on leave for personal reasons when they already don’t like you. Take the leave and try to get pregnant, but be prepared to look for another job when it’s over if you’re not pregnant by that time or suck up the bad treatment there so you don’t have to put your mat leave on hold (for our American viewers, mat leave is 12 months in Canada and not to be given up lightly). You might have to chose between mat leave and happy at work at some point regardless, though, depending on how long it takes to get pregnant.