Burnout is now medical diagnosis listed in ICD-11

World Health Organization recognizes “burnout” as medical diagnosis and what employees need to know about their legal rights under workers’ compensation in Michigan.

Burned out at work

CNN is reporting on the World Health Organization recognizing burnout as a legitimate medical diagnosis. It has now been included in the International Classifications of Diseases (ICD-11). Researchers have been studying burnout for years but could not come up with a consensus definition. Other psychiatric conditions, such as anxiety and depression, must be ruled out before a correct diagnosis can be made.

The ICD-11 defines burnout as a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions: 1) feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; 2) increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and 3) reduced professional efficacy.

This topic is near to our hearts because of the number of people calling our office complaining about stress from their jobs. It can be extremely difficult to handle work pressures when management refuses to deal with obvious problems. This includes being assigned too much work, unreasonable deadlines, low pay, and toxic work environments.

Michigan law allows employees suffering from psychiatric disability to claim workers’ compensation benefits. Medical treatment and lost wages should be covered. These cases are extremely difficult because there is no easy way to prove what a person thinks or feels. We are glad to see the international medical community come up with diagnostic criteria that can be used to help these people.

For burnout to be covered under workers’ compensation, it must arise out of actual events from the workplace and be reasonably grounded in fact or reality. It cannot be based upon imaginary or made up events. Employee reaction will be judged on a subjective-personal basis. This means how a person feels about a situation is directly relevant to the question of disability.

An employee who can prove burnout from their job is not automatically entitled to lost wages. Payment does not begin until after seven consecutive days of disability. The ability to work in another position would disqualify them from collecting wage loss benefits. It is not enough to say that an employee cannot do his or her job.

Disputes about the payment of workers’ compensation benefits can be challenged with an administrative hearing. Medical and vocational evidence will be required to successfully prove a case. It must be shown that a person has a “wage loss” and cannot work for a different employer. We recommend speaking with an attorney should this become necessary.

Unfortunately, workers’ compensation is not a great option for an employee who is temporarily burned out from his or her job. We hope that other options become available as this diagnosis gains mainstream acceptance. For example, paid mental health days can go a long way to alleviating work stress.

Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers never charges a fee to evaluate a potential case. Our law firm has represented injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years. Call (844) 201-9497 for a free consultation today.

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