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I asked my company for a leave of absence for a few months (> 4 months) to get some mental health issues (anxiety, ADHD) under control and they rejected my request citing that it makes it harder for them to do headcount planning. Instead they told me to apply for short term disability through our benefits package. I'm not inclined to want to do so because I'm not sure if my situation applies to qualify for short term disability and I'm not sure that I'd be able to quit while on it. I'm wondering if at this point I should just quit.

Would it look like I was lying or operating in bad faith if I didn't want to put in for the short term disability claim?

Can I quit while taking short term disability?

I just wanted space for a few months to get my mind right and evaluate where I'm at and potentially quit my position if I felt that it wasn't right.

Does it look bad now if I quit because of the implication that not wanting to file an insurance claim means I didn't have a legitimate health issue to begin with?

Edit: I'm in Ontario, Canada if that matters

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  • 8
    You will probably get better answers if you added a country tag, since you have very different rights, health insurance systems and unemployment benefits based on your country.
    – nvoigt
    Oct 25, 2023 at 4:39
  • Of course you can quit while on short term disability. Slavery is not legal in Canada.
    – Jon Custer
    Oct 25, 2023 at 12:33
  • @joestrazzere I wanted the option to do so if I felt it was right for my mental health
    – pingOfDoom
    Oct 26, 2023 at 1:03

6 Answers 6

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Instead they told me to apply for short term disability through our benefits package.

So it seems your company has an official way to deal with that and they know about it. I can find nothing bad about it.

I'm not inclined to want to do so because I'm not sure if my situation applies to qualify for short term disability and I'm not sure that I'd be able to quit while on it.

That seems to be an awful lot of uncertainty to base any decision on. Why don't you take this proposed plan to your doctor or health insurance and ask them. Also ask them about the alternative, just quitting. Without a juristiction or knowing the actual type of plan, nobody here can advise you about it. And without knowing your actual problems, nobody here would be able to give you good advice anyway. So go find someone who is able to do so.

I just wanted space for a few months to get my mind right and evaluate where I'm at and potentially quit my position if I felt that it wasn't right.

While that might be a good thing to do, as you found out, there is nothing in your contract giving you that opportunity. They hired a worker, to work. Just imagine the tables were turned and your company would say "we need a few months to find out whether we like you and you fit into our corporate structure, we will sent you on unpaid leave, we will let you know our final decision later, when we are ready". With a lot of goodwill, some saved money, and desperation you might agree on those terms, but they are pretty one-sided and in many countries even illegal.

Does it look bad now if I quit because of the implication that not wanting to file an insurance claim means I didn't have a legitimate health issue to begin with?

From my perspective, as long as you do it confirming to your contract (including notice periods), there cannot be bad faith. You asked for unpaid leave, you didn't get it, you did what you had to, to not work. It is none of their business whether you qualify or want to be in short term disability. Bad faith would be to suddenly come up with another mysterious illness that doesn't actually exist, just to get medical leave. In your case, you quit. There is nothing good or bad faith about it. It's a legal termination of a contract. That is what those clauses in contracts are for, they handle disagreements between parties, so none can claim to be cheated or treated unfairly.

That does not mean they have to give you glowing references or rehire you later. They might not. A lot depends on how you communicate.

There are probably a thousand shades of grey between

You ignorant fools, I QUIT!

and

I am sorry boss, I did what you said and checked out this short term disability thing, but I am really not in a mental state to go through all the required paperwork and certifications and doctor evaluations right now. I need some time off to get better and this is the only option I see for myself.

However, if you go with option #2 and have not actually checked what you would need to do for what was suggested, that would be a straight up lie and that would be bad faith.

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Is it bad faith to quit after getting rejected for a leave of absence?

No, any time you ask for something at work there is an underlying implication that you will leave if you don't get the response you want. Experienced employers are well aware of this.

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I would suggest not to make any rush decisions.

Short term disability on the basis of mental health is possible, you should explore this option

And, if rejected for short term disability, revisit the leave of absence thing.

Also, i think you should discuss with your manager situation, where you are rejected for short term disability.

And, perhaps, some accommodations in the meantime.

Such as shorter work hours, remote work etc.

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Look at it from the other side:

You plan a four-month leave, and shoot it up the chain. Everybody happens to be agreeable to it, but they also know they'll be in a crunch to get your workload done. Maybe they hire a temp. They plan on redistributing your email to someone else. Long story short, they go out of their way and make a whole lot of plans to accommodate you.

But since you're on leave, there's no money coming in, and three weeks later when the reality hits you, you decide that you want to come back, and now they have no choice but to shift again.

No one wants to deal with that!

So, the safest bet for the company is to have you getting paid while you're out, by way of short term disability. It may not pay 100% of your wages, but it keeps you from operating in extremes when your wallet gets thin.

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Your question is likely to be closed for asking what to do in a specific situation.

An important aspect when making this kind of decision is "what will be subsequent decision points?" If you quit or go on disability, you will have another time when you need to make another decision - whether or not you return to work. If you are on short term disability, the choice is between returning to work or going on long term disability. With mental health issues, it is quite common to not be able to return to the same type of work you were doing before. It is common to decide that the workload was a major contributor to the mental health issues and need to change where or how you work.

Looking at this situation from a strictly financial viewpoint, the advice would be to choose a path that includes some income.

On a mental health viewpoint, each person has different levels of how much interaction with authorities, employers, and stressors they can handle. You might not be able to handle the interactions needed during short term disability. This forum cannot give advice to such situations because every situation is different.

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Your mental health is very important. You should take great care of yourself first. You can even take it one step further either by getting professional mental health help now while you are still working or by getting professional help after you quit.

(In my answer below, I assume that you are in Canada as your StackExchange Workplace profile says that you are in Toronto, Canada.)

According to info from the web, generally, there is no At-Will-Employment in Canada, "employment relationships are governed by employment contracts, either written or implied, and various employment laws and regulations."

I'm wondering if at this point I should just quit. Can I quit while taking short term disability?

If you want to quit, please read your employment contract or HR handbook. There should be some info about under which conditions you may or may not quit. If you quit the job and violate the employment contract, the contract should clearly state the possible penalty (financially or some other consequences).


Furthermore, if you want to quit, you can also consult a labor attorney in your location. He can help you to understand the situation and consequences of quitting with respect to your employment contract. It may also be helpful to have an official diagnosis of your mental health by a doctor. (Again, talk to a labor attorney if you want to be sure).

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