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

In this blog post, we are answering one popular question: “Can I claim benefits if I leave my job due to stress?”

We are addressing the issue of resigning from a job, factors that lead to stress and what benefits one can claim after leaving work voluntarily. 

Resigning from a job

Handing in your resignation, either verbally or in writing, is a clear statement by you to your employer that you’re going to leave your job.

Before handing in your resignation, think carefully about why you’re doing it and whether it’s the right thing to do.

If you’re leaving because of problems at work, or a disagreement with your boss, ask yourself if these problems could be sorted out through your company’s standard grievance procedure.

Think about how you will manage without your wages and how easy it will be to find another job.

If you want to explain your reasons for resigning, putting it in writing will make it easier to organize your thoughts, but when you resign, it is important to remember that:

  • your resignation can’t be taken back unless your contract allows it, or your employer agrees
  • you will get your final payment on your normal payday unless your contract says differently – you do not have the right to ask for it any earlier
  • as long as you have given notice in line with the terms of your contract, your employer must accept your resignation

Leaving a job due to stress

When the conditions and demands you encounter at work — like workload, level of autonomy, and norms of interpersonal behavior — exceed your capacity to handle them, you’re at risk of burning out.

Burnout has three components: exhaustion (lost energy), cynicism (lost enthusiasm), and inefficacy (lost self-confidence and capacity to perform), but you don’t have to be experiencing all three in order to suffer serious consequences, according to Harvard Business Review. 

There may come a time when leaving your job or organization is the best possible course of action in response to burnout.

Chronic stress and consistently adverse work conditions will affect your health. 

No job is worth losing your health over, and if you haven’t experienced a major breakdown yet, this is the perfect chance to break away.

Wait until your health breaks down completely, and you won’t be able to search for another job, or at least it will be much harder.

The signs or symptoms of work-related stress can be physical, psychological and behavioral.

Physical symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Muscular tension
  • Headaches
  • Heart palpitations
  • Sleeping difficulties, such as insomnia
  • Gastrointestinal upsets, such as diarrhea or constipation
  • Dermatological disorders.

Psychological symptoms include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Discouragement
  • Irritability
  • Pessimism
  • Feelings of being overwhelmed and unable to cope
  • Cognitive difficulties, such as a reduced ability to concentrate or make decisions.

Behavioral symptoms include:

  • An increase in sick days or absenteeism
  • Aggression
  • Diminished creativity and initiative
  • A drop in work performance
  • Problems with interpersonal relationships
  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Lower tolerance of frustration and impatience
  • Disinterest
  • Isolation.

Work-related stress is a growing problem around the world that affects not only the health and well-being of employees but also the productivity of organizations.

Work-related stress arises where work demands of various types and combinations exceed the person’s capacity and capability to cope. 

Some of the factors that commonly cause work-related stress include:

  • Long hours
  • Heavy workload
  • Changes within the organization
  • Tight deadlines
  • Changes to duties
  • Job insecurity
  • Lack of autonomy
  • Boring work
  • Insufficient skills for the job
  • Over-supervision
  • Inadequate working environment
  • Lack of proper resources
  • Lack of equipment
  • Few promotional opportunities
  • Harassment
  • Discrimination
  • Poor relationships with colleagues or bosses
  • Crisis incidents, such as an armed hold-up or workplace death.

A person suffering from work-related stress can help themselves in a number of ways, including:

  • Think about the changes you need to make at work in order to reduce your stress levels and then take action. Some changes you can manage yourself, while others will need the cooperation of others.
  • Talk over your concerns with your employer or human resources manager.
  • Make sure you are well organized. List your tasks in order of priority. Schedule the most difficult tasks of each day for times when you are fresh, such as first thing in the morning.
  • Take care of yourself. Eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly.
  • Consider the benefits of regular relaxation. You could try meditation or yoga.
  • Make sure you have enough free time for yourself every week.
  • Don’t take out your stress on loved ones. Instead, tell them about your work problems and ask for their support and suggestions.
  • Drugs, such as alcohol and tobacco, won’t alleviate stress and can cause additional health problems. Avoid excessive drinking and smoking.
  • Seek professional counseling from a psychologist.
  • If work-related stress continues to be a problem, despite your efforts, you may need to consider another job or a career change. Seek advice from a career counselor or psychologist.

If you want to make someone you love feel a little better, less stressed, and more relaxed, try these Best Gifts for Stress & Anxiety.

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

If you left your job due to stress, you may have to claim benefits until you find work again.

Whether you are eligible for benefits will depend on your means and on the details of how your job ended.

Unless you can show that you left your lost job “for a good reason”, you are likely to be penalized by the loss of benefits for around three months. 

This is called a “sanction”. These sanctions already existed under the old-style Job Seekers Allowance system and have been replicated under Universal Credit.

Citizens Advice has put together some guidance (‘Deciding whether to resign’) explaining the circumstances in which you might be able to challenge a benefits sanction imposed because you resigned from your job, and how to go about proving to the DWP why you quit. 

Everything depends on your personal circumstances, but some of the reasons that Citizens Advice suggest might be accepted by the DWP include that you:

  • took voluntary redundancy
  • weren’t getting the National Minimum Wage
  • didn’t feel safe working in the conditions because they didn’t meet health and safety standards
  • didn’t feel safe because you were bullied or harassed
  • had a zero-hour contract.

 You may qualify for a “hardship payment” from the DWP while sanctioned but if you do, this will have to be repaid through lower future Universal Credit payments.

Your trade union can give advice if you are making a claim for benefits and think you might face sanctions. 

Some trade unions have special community-based sections with very low rates, aimed at giving a voice to the unemployed and helping unemployed members back into work.

The Benefits sections of the GOV.UK website has some useful information for people who haven’t claimed benefits before.

Can you collect unemployment if you quit your job because of stress?

The answer to the question can you collect unemployment if you quit your job because of stress is: it depends.

Just leaving your job won’t be enough to be eligible to qualify for unemployment, you need to meet some criteria where they account for the amount of time you worked for your employer, your earnings and prove you left for reasons out of your control.


In this blog post, we answer the following question: “Can I claim benefits if I leave my job due to stress?”

We also talked about reasons for resigning from a job, factors that lead to stress and how to cope with work-related stress.

If you left your job due to stress, you may have to claim benefits until you find work again.

Whether you are eligible for benefits will depend on the “proof” you bring regarding your reason for living. 

Your trade union can give advice if you are making a claim for benefits and think you might face sanctions.

Please feel free to comment on the content or ask any questions in the comments section below.

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

Can I claim benefits if I leave my job due to ill health?

You can claim employment and support allowance if you are to sick to work.

If you do claim jobseeker’s allowance or universal credit you will have to show you left work for a good reason.

Being too ill to work will usually be accepted as a good reason.

What is a good cause to quit for unemployment?

A good cause to quit for unemployment benefits would be, for example, because the job was unsafe or the employee had a serious work-related injury.

In other states, an employee who quits for compelling personal reasons will also be eligible.

Is it better to be fired or quit?

f it is better to be fired or quit, it depends on the outcome one is expecting.

Quitting can be more liberating and be less of a traumatic blow than being fired.

However, if you hope to collect unemployment benefits, it is better to be fired.

Unemployment benefits are not often awarded if you quit.

Can no longer work due to illness?

If you can no longer work due to illness, you can apply for the New Style ESA.

This is paid if you can’t work or can only work a few hours a week because of sickness or disability. 

Can I get disability for anxiety?

You can get disability benefits if you are diagnosed with severe generalized anxiety disorder, PTSD, or OCD.

However, only when you experience severe symptoms of anxiety that affect your ability to function at work and at home, you can and may be eligible for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Should I quit my job with nothing lined up?

When considering if you should quit your job with nothing lined up, consider that quitting is disruptive and creates financial pressure where there was none before.

However, if you are experiencing burnout, don’t wait for another opportunity to come. Your mental health is important too. 

What benefits can I claim if I resign from my job in the UK?

If you resign from your job and are claiming constructive dismissal then tell your local Jobs and Benefits office.

If you don’t qualify for Job Seeker’s Allowance or Universal Credit under the normal rules then you may be able to claim a hardship payment, based on your individual circumstances.


  1. How to Turn Stress on Its Head: The simple truth that can change your relationship with work
  2. The Stress Solution: The 4 Steps to a Calmer, Happier, Healthier You
  3. Rise and Shine: Recover from burnout and get back to your best
  4. Burn Out Diary: Diary for Mental Health for all with Burn Out to complete 
  5. The Burnout Solution: 12 weeks to a calmer you 
  6. When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress 


  1. – Resigning from a job
  2. Harvard Business Review – Burnout
  3. Work-related stress – Better Health Channel
  4. Deciding whether to resign – Citizens Advice