Burnout from a labor law perspective: The disease that nobody takes seriously {Review}

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One of the most important topics today - an education on burnout. But it not only sheds light on what burnout actually means, how to prevent and get the disease under control, no, there is more: The author also explains what the labor law side looks like if you “because of a little stress” ( according to the popular opinion of many employers) that they take longer to write sick.

By the way: You can find many more hand-picked reading recommendations in our section Editorial book tips.

Here writes for you:


Wolfgang Hanfstein 38Wolfgang Hanfstein is co-founder and chief editor of Managementbuch.de, the leading bookstore for executives, entrepreneurs and self-employed persons.


The underrated disease

Anyone who breaks his bones during a ski holiday is sick until he gets on his feet again. A self-evidentness, which is evident in the diagnosis burnout does not attack. Both the affected person and the employer tend to deal with this disease in a self-sufficient manner - which then begins not to take the disease seriously.

Iris Riffelt, a lawyer specializing in labor law and herself experienced in “burnout”, now shows in her book “Stopover Burnout” what those affected have to consider from the point of view of labor law - and what they can expect.

“Everyone has stress”

The burnout-cases of some celebrities have brought the subject again and again into the gaps and talkshows and thus surely helped to make the topic known. Nevertheless, the diagnosis is still smiled in everyday life.

"Everyone has stress at times," it says. The result is that those affected do not take themselves and their illness seriously. And that's exactly one of the most difficult phases of the disease - not recognizing it.

The first step to healing: Take the disease seriously!

“Stopover Burnout” essentially consists of two parts. In the first, Iris Riffelt describes what burnout means and how to recognize burnout completely unacademically and saturated with experience. In contrast to illnesses that are diagnosed by the doctor, the long way to cure burnout begins with “that the person concerned takes the illness seriously themselves.”

Riffelt refers to Herbert Freudenberger, who coined the term “burnout” in the 70s. And to Volker Schmieder, who defines burnout as the intersection of "stress, depression and exhaustion".

And what does he say? Manager to?

The way out of the burnout is stony. Iris Riffelt describes the prerequisites for complete recovery from her own experience and from discussions with those concerned. Fundamental are the subjects of peace, self-confidence, and mindfulness.

Burnout sufferers will not be able to overcome their illness with these “tips”. But they get an insight into how it works and the “antidotes”. Up to this point, “Stopover Burnout” is a helpful book, but not one that stands out from the books on the subject available so far. This happens in the second part.

Burnout from the point of view of labor law

For Iris Riffelt is neither a psychologist nor a doctor, but a labor lawyer. The fact that she has kneeled into this topic is because she herself was burnout. A circumstance to which the sufferer now owes a wise book.

Precisely because the diagnosis of “burnout” is never taken seriously either by the environment, by employers or by those affected, the question of the labor law side quickly arises. And Iris Riffelt fills this gap excellently.

Neither employer nor patient decide

“Can I even take some time off? What about sickness benefit? How long have I been insured for? Can I be canceled if I am ill for several months? How should I survive a financial break as a self-employed person? ” The specialist lawyer Iris Riffelt deals with all of these questions point by point.

It makes it clear that, as with other illnesses, neither the employer nor the patient decide how long the disease lasts. But that the disease is the measure upon which action is taken.

Six months sick is not possible?

And Riffelt shows how the re-entry into the job works. An important book, also because it warns against hasty decisions (for example, rushed dismissals, which often aggravate the whole thing).

It encourages sufferers to accept their illness first, and then on the road to recovery. Above all, however, the author and specialist lawyer Iris Riffelt shows that and how the labor law strengthens burnout sufferers.

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