Can I claim benefits if I leave my job due to stress? (3 Tips) 

This blog looks at whether a person can claim benefits if they resign or quit their job owing to stress and stress induced illnesses/limitations. It explores the different contexts in which resignation due to stress is justified and the benefits that can be claimed. 

Can I claim benefits if I leave my job due to stress ?

Yes, You may be able to claim some benefits when you leave your job due to stress but you need to be able to show a good reason(s) for the same. Stress on its own will not warrant any benefits unless there are clear justifications for the same. 

There are , however, different causes for stress that originate in the workplace, which if cited and evidence is provided can entitle you to benefits. But these must first be established.

The blog will list out each possibility or set of possibilities that can justify stress based resignations and what benefits will accrue as a consequence. 

Any person thinking of resigning from their jobs due to stress must first be aware of the regulations and benefit ecosystem when you quit. Stress on its own does not constitute a valid reason for leaving the job. 

If you quit citing stress as the reason and do not have evidentiary support to back up your claim then, you will not receive benefits for a period of 3 months. This is the Department of Work and Pensions sanction. 

If it is too difficult for you, then the DWP may grant a concession called the ‘hardship payment’ which can help you for a while, but this amount will be deducted from future Universal Credit awards after you get a job. 

Therefore, you need to substantiate your claims of stress with proof of situations or events that the DWP legally recognizes as constituting ‘good reason’ to quit. 

Prior to this, however, there are some steps your employer must take , in the absence of which you may have to quit.

Internal Concessions and Adjustments by the Employer 

Stress can occur within the workplace for a number of reasons. Some of these reasons may qualify the Department of Work and Pensions benchmark for legitimizing the resignations. 

The others may simply be pressure or stress that comes with the nature of the occupation or the sector or even just the requirements of the designation itself. Whatever be the case, the first step to resolution begins within the organization. 

Only if the employer and colleagues are dismissive of the need to make changes or they do not respect different requirements can any complaints against the organization even be considered, in terms of granting benefits for stress related resignations. 

Here it is important to note that the employer must be made aware of any stress the person may be facing or any health issues that could get worse due to stress. 

If the employer remains unaware , then they have no legal obligation to provide a better work environment. 

So ensure that if you face stress, you communicate it to the employer, preferably in a formal and documented manner for legal purposes e.g. email or letter. 

The employer has the legal responsibility to understand that there could be substantial negative impacts on the person’s health in the near future. 

They should avoid any activity or pressure that could exacerbate the stress and cause further deterioration in health and also ensure take into consideration any illness/disabilities when assigning work , because stress related sickness can affect the amount of work a person can do. 

If the employer is aware of your stress or any other health problems that could be made worse by stress, then they have a legal commitment to ensure that they do not overload you with more work and pressure than would be expected at normal capacity for the role. 

They should also take special care in observing, identifying and addressing any symptoms of stress, such as repeated absences or sick days or perhaps a sudden drop in work quality. 

The employer should also proactively try to understand if the stress the employee faces is actually an illness or disability that requires ‘reasonable adjustments’ and some concessions at the workplace. 

Resignation due to Internal Factors 

The stress an individual faces could have nothing to do with the actual work and more to do with the work environment, the behaviour of colleagues and the attitude of the boss. 

Under DWP guidelines you can claim benefits if your stress has been caused or compounded by the following factors, thus leading you to resign : 

  • Bullying or harassment by employer and/or colleagues – this could mean unnecessary bad behaviour and a toxic work environment that makes you feel intimidated and uncomfortable at the workplace. 
  • Your employer could also be forcing you to resign voluntarily, by issuing threats or bullying you in other ways. The employer could be coercing you to leave by threatening to fire you if you don’t.

This circumstance is called ‘constructive dismissal’ and it qualifies the DWP benchmark for a person who ostensibly resigned voluntarily but actually quit due to stress caused by such coercive tactics. 

  • Other situations that could cause or compound stress other than the work itself might be the remuneration you receive from work or unfair work standards. 

If you are subject to a zero-hour contract wherein you are given less than the minimum number of work hours per week or you are given less than the National Minimum Wage, then it is a justifiable reason to leave. 

  • Finally, fear of an unsafe working environment, such as hazardous factories or warehouses or workplaces that do not meet the national safety or health standards can cause a tremendous amount of stress , especially for those with existing health issues. 

All these reasons behind stress-related resignations is a legitimate reason to receive benefits according to the DWP. 

These reasons need to be proven. Hecne, the claimant needs to provide documents and other evidentiary support that the employer did not take the complaints.grievances into consideration even when formally filed.

This can be in the form of official correspondence and any other documentation that proves circumstances to the effect that the above conditions, like the lack of a minimum wage or an unsafe working environment, can be provided. 

These could include payslips, formal grievances filed, emails between your boss and yourself etc. Once proven you may be entitled to the ‘new-style’ Job-seeker’s Allowance (JSA) and/or Universal Credit. 

Since the old format of JSA i.e. income based JSA and contributory JSA have been revoked and income-based JSA has been brought under the Universal Credit umbrella, you could claim the unemployment component of UC when you leave your job. 

It is possible to claim both the UC component and the ‘new-style’ JSA together if you meet the requirements  and depending upon your circumstances.

The ‘new-style’ JSA can be claimed if you are above 18 and unemployed or working less than 16 hours a week. 

You also need to have paid National Insurance contribution or have NI credits upto the requisite level for at least  the past 2-3 years. 

It will tide you over until you find employment or it will give you extra monetary support if you cannot work any longer/do not have the capacity to go back to work. The amount you receive will depend on your age and the ability to go back to work. 

If you were already receiving UC, then you will continue to do so. You may also receive the additional component meant for unemployment depending on whether you are receiving JSA and also your personal circumstances. 

Resignation due to stress-related disorders/illnesses 

If you have a clearly identifiable and diagnosed disability or illness (be it physical or mental impairment) even when you join the workforce, then your employer is legally bound under the Equality Act, 2010 to make some provisions. 

Firstly, no employer can discriminate against the applicant if they have a physical or mental disability or impairment as long as they have the necessary qualifications like other candidates. 

Second, once selected, the employee must be given concessions i.e. the employer is expected to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to ensure that the employee is made comfortable and works in accordance with their unique ability. 

This could mean flexibility in working hours, extra breaks, more time-off especially considering doctor’s appointments etc. among other provisions.

Now, if the employer does not make these provisions, and you have documentation or evidence of this, the employer can be held legally responsible to make amends, through claims at an Employees Grievance Tribunal. 

But if despite these measures te situation remains the same or you experience discrimination in other forms like bullying , harassment, or a toxic work enviroment, if you have evidentiary support of the same, you can receive JSA and Universal Credit. 

But keeping in mind the fact the stress could have caused illness or ‘hidden disabilities’ , you will also be entitled to claim disability related benefits. 

These could include the Disability Living Allowance (DLA), PersonL Independence Payment (PIP), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Attendance Allowance (AA). 

You can claim these even if you did not have a disability to begin with and the stress at the office triggered these illnesses or caused them to manifest or compound. 

These are all available whether you are working or not. But even if you begin to get unwell due to the stress caused by circumstances in the office you are still entitled to claim these benefits. 

The cause doesnt matter, only the illness matters. So if you resign because the work environment made you ill, you are eligible to claim disability benefits for mental impairment. 

This blog looks at whether a person can claim benefits if they resign or quit their job owing to stress and stress induced illnesses/limitations. It explores the different contexts in which resignation due to stress is justified and the benefits that can be claimed.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) – Can I claim benefits if I leave my job due to stress ?

What qualifies as mental impairment as compared to just stress for the purpose of claiming benefits ? 

To qualify for disability benefits or to require your employer to provide you with ‘reasonable adjustments’  you need to be suffering from an illness/disability that comes under the Equality Act, 2010. 

Just being stressed is not tantamount to mental impairment under this Act. The mental or physical impairment has to be significant and long-term. It has to seriously affect daily activities and the ability to perform them. 

The condition should have lasted ro should be expected to last for at least a year. Your General Practitioner may be able to attest to this. For more information please refer – Stress at work- Landau Law- Employment lawyers/. 

Does temporary stress/grief qualify for benefits ? 

Given the definition of what constitutes mental impairment or disability that arises from stress under the Equality Act, temporary grief or stress does not qualify for any benefits. 

If you leave work due to the stress of losing a loved one , divorce, or even any immediate project that has more workload than usual i.e.e temporary pressure, you will not be eligible to claim any benefits. 

So resigning for the purpose of mourning, bereavement, grief caused by a recent event etc. will not be a justifiable reason to claim benefits for disability if you quit your job on this premise. 

If I am stressed , can I resign verbally without notice ? 

It depends on the company’s notice policy. Most of them require a written notice at least a week in advance if not more. 

If you do walk out with just a verbal notice, then it is possible that the company can bring an injunction against you on the grounds that your sudden departure has caused losses and is against the contract. 

So ensure that you are legally safe. It is always better to give notice in accordance with the company policy and work through until you can leave. 

Do I still continue to receive Employment Insurance if I quit due to stress ? 

You need to be able to prove a good enough reason for quitting your job. This has been detailed above. As with any other benefit you can continue to avail Employment Insurance only if you provide a valid reason for quitting due to stress. 

The presence of stress itself will not justify the resignation. So in such cases, your Employment Insurance will also be stopped. 

For more information please refer to – Question: Can I Claim Benefits If I Leave My Job Due To Stress? – answers about the workplace

Can I continue to receive benefits if I have personal stress/ family-related stress and I quit ? 

There are other possible reasons as well which could cause stress while at the workplace that have nothing to do with the work at all. One of these is the struggle of caring for a child or the elderly while also working. 

Inability to balance the two could also cause significant stress, leading to a resignation.

In these cases, there is a justified reason and you will get benefits like JSA and Universal Credit along with other benefits like Carer’s Allowance etc. 


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