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Monday, January 17th, otherwise known as Blue Monday, has just passed. The third Monday of January has been named the saddest day of the year due in part to the cold weather, holiday credit card payments, lack of sun and more recently, the low mood and anxiety stemming from COVID-19. While Blue Monday is just one day, it is a helpful reminder to understand your entitlements and rights as an employee if you are struggling with your mental health. 

Occupational Health and Safety 

Employers have the duty to maintain a safe and healthy workplace. While this duty applies to physical health and safety, it can apply to mental health and safety as well. 

Harassment or violence in the workplace can negatively impact an employee’s mental health. Therefore, employers must have workplace violence and harassment policies and programs in place and ensure that information is available for employees. 

If you are experiencing harassment or violence in the workplace, you have the duty to report the incident to your employer. Following a report, employers must investigate the incident and implement the appropriate resolutions in the situation. 

Harassment and/or violence in the workplace may be a sensitive incident to disclose to your employer. The Occupational Health and Safety Act protects employees who report incidents of unsafe work from discipline or other retaliation. 

Workplace Compensation 

Employees in Ontario are entitled to workers’ compensation for mental stress arising out of employment. 

There are two categories of mental stress eligible for workers’ compensation:

  • Work-Related Traumatic Mental Stress

Traumatic mental stress applies to workers who have witnessed or suffered a work-related traumatic event. In order to qualify for compensation, the worker must have a diagnosis from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). For example, an employee who has witnessed or been the object of an armed robbery and has since been diagnosed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), may be entitled to compensation while they recover from the mental stress. 

  • Work-Related Chronic Mental Stress

Employees who suffer chronic (prolonged) mental stress may be entitled to compensation if they can identify that a work-related event was the leading cause of the stress. Workers must also have obtained a relevant diagnosis from the DSM. For example, an employee who has been the target of a co-worker who persistently harasses them and has been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder may be entitled to compensation.

Human Rights Accommodation

The Ontario Human Rights Code requires employers to accommodate employees who have mental disabilities. If an employer becomes aware of an employee’s mental disability or if an employee discloses a mental disability, the employer’s duty to accommodate the worker is triggered. 

Accommodation for mental disabilities must meet the individual’s disability-related needs with the aim of providing equal opportunities and allowing the worker to feel safe and respected in the workplace. 

Some examples of mental disability accommodation in the workplace include the following:

  • Modifying job duties
  • Employee assistance programs
  • Flexible working arrangements
  • Short-term or long-term disability leave
  • Alternative work

For information about Mental Health in the Workplace, contact Sultan Lawyers in Toronto 

If you are struggling with your mental health and have found it has impacted your employment,  contact the employment lawyers at Sultan Lawyers to schedule a consultation and discuss your options. Call us at 416-214-5111, or email khayward@sultanlawyers.com.


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