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Stress Leave California (Conditions & Statistics for 2024)

In California, “stress leave” is a state disability insurance program for employees who are suffering from a mental health condition that makes them unable to work. To qualify for stress leave in California, the employee’s mental health condition must be certified by a licensed health care provider.
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Can I Take Time Off for Stress in California?

According to PLBH, in California, you might be eligible for stress leave if job-related stress is impeding your ability to fulfill your job responsibilities [1]. This type of leave can be classified under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) or the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Both CFRA and FMLA stress leaves are unpaid, and not all employees are eligible for them. To qualify, your job-related stress must be severe enough to result in a serious health condition.

This unpaid time off can aid in your recovery from the strains of a hostile workplace brought on by other employees or other problems at work.

Any California employee is eligible to request stress leave if they are experiencing any of the following conditions:

  • Inability to perform job duties.
  • Difficulty focusing on work due to stress.
  • Recommendation from a doctor for stress leave.
  • Feeling pressured due to workload.
  • Struggling to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
  • Facing challenges in the workplace.

How Long Can I Go On Stress Leave in California?

If a healthcare provider determines that your job-related stress constitutes a “serious health condition,” you may qualify for up to 12 weeks of unpaid protected leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). FMLA or CFRA leave can be a valuable option if your work-related stress and anxiety are impacting your ability to perform your job and you require time off.

Your employer could also be sued if they interfere with your leave, deny leave, refuse to reinstate you upon your return from leave or retaliate against you for taking leave for stress.

Support for Military Families under FMLA

According to Better Help, the FMLA assists families of servicemembers, including those on active duty, by offering military caregiver leave [2].

This type of leave allows eligible employees up to 26 work weeks of leave in a single 12-month period, specifically to care for a covered servicemember or veteran who has suffered a serious injury or illness.

Eligibility for this leave is extensive and may include the servicemember’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent.

For instance, if an employee’s spouse sustained an injury while serving in the military overseas, they could request FMLA military caregiver leave to provide care.

FMLA Statistics

  • According to the National Partnership for Women & Families 2023 research, approximately 44 percent of workers are ineligible for FMLA-supported leave due to various reasons, such as working for small employers (15 percent), not meeting the required hours or tenure with their employer (21 percent), or a combination of both (7 percent) [3].
  • Workers of color are disproportionately affected, with 55 percent of Native American, Pacific Islander, or multiracial workers, 48 percent of Latinx workers, 47 percent of Asian American workers, and 43 percent of Black workers being ineligible, compared to 42 percent of white workers (Brown et al., 2020).
  • In 2022, it was estimated that nearly 2.7 million workers who were not protected by FMLA needed leave but did not take it due to fear of losing their jobs (National Partnership for Women & Families analysis, Brown et al., 2020).
  • Many workers cannot afford unpaid leave, as evidenced by about 10.9 million workers in 2022 needing leave but not taking it, with over 7.2 million citing inability to afford unpaid leave as the reason (National Partnership for Women & Families analysis, Brown et al., 2020).
  • The FMLA’s definition of family, limited to a spouse, parent, or child under 18 or incapable of self-care, does not meet the caregiving needs of many individuals. In 2022, an estimated 8.4 million people (5.3 percent of all workers) took leave for a non-FMLA-covered individual, indicating their jobs were not protected during leave. Among workers who did not take leave when needed, 14 percent reported that the person they needed to care for was not covered by FMLA (National Partnership for Women & Families analysis, Brown et al., 2020).

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