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I am scheduled to return to work in about 2 months.  At that time I will have been on leave for 9 months.  Before my cancer diagnosis, the company went through a merger.  I worked for the new company for 3 months, so I will have been on leave 3 times longer than I worked for the new company.  I am quite nervous about the process of returning to work, and would also like to confirm my rights.

Some specific things that are making me nervous...1.  I received very limited training prior to the merger and virtually no on the job coaching after the merger.  That, combined with chemo brain, means I'm not even sure I can operate their in house computer programs.  How do I ask for additional training (if I return to the same role) without appearing unqualified for the position?  If I return to a different role, how do I ask for training?  2.  I'm not sure who to talk to when it's time to return to work.  Should I work with the person who was my direct manager?  an HR manager? the leave department?  3.  How far in advance should I start this process?  4.  I am able to see internal job postings from my home computer.  Am I able to say "I do not want to return to the same role, I would like the equivalent job that is posted?" 

Any advice you can offer would be appreciated.  Thank you.

3 Comments

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  • Alice McKenney

    Alice McKenney on Mar 14, 2011

    Cancer and Careers Staff Comment:

    Hi Linda,

    So sorry for the delay!  We are still getting acclimated to our new site.  However rest assured I have sent your post to two of our coaches so you should be getting a response shortly.

    Warmly,

    Alice

  • Rosalind Joffe

    Rosalind Joffe on Mar 14, 2011

    Career Coach Comment:

    Hi Linda -  I can appreciate that you would be nervous about returning to work when much has changed.  I'm going to say at the outset that your questions are very specific and it's not possible to answer them precisely without more knowledge about you, your background and the situation.  I don't want to suggest anything that would encourage you to do anything that might harm your position.  So, I'll do the best and I can, where I can.

    1.  I received very
    limited training prior to the merger and virtually no on the job
    coaching after the merger.  That, combined with chemo brain, means I'm
    not even sure I can operate their in house computer programs.  How do I
    ask for additional training (if I return to the same role) without
    appearing unqualified for the position?    If I return to a different
    role, how do I ask for training?  ANS:  I don't know what your job is, so it's difficult to know what additional training would mean.   If you were there for 3 months with little training, I can only assume they didn't offer much training.  If you missed the training while you were out, then it seems "reasonable" to request it now but that also depends on many factors and how easy it is for them to deliver the training.  If you worry  that your "chemo brain" is setting you back and the training will help this, then you have to ask yourself how you can request this so they'll be inclined to give it to you.  I can imagine that might not be obvious to you, since you didn't work for the new management long.  It sounds like you're going to need some help, from your description, and your best bet is to ask for it so they want to help you and to let them know this will make you an even better employee.  If you return to a different role, because they've assigned you this position, it seems natural to ask for training.  Would it have been any different if you hadn't taken the 9 months for leave but just been re-assigned?  Is there a way you can view this from that perspective?

    2.  I'm not sure who to talk to when
    it's time to return to work.  Should I work with the person who was my
    direct manager?  an HR manager? the leave department?  This varies within each company.  If they don't contact you prior to your return date, then I'd ask the "leave" department since they're familiar with this situation.

    3.  How far in
    advance should I start this process?  This, too varies - depending on the company and it's rules for return to work. Some won't let you do anything until you're back at work - nor will they talk to you.  Others are quite different.  It also depends on what will help you most.

    4.  I am able to see internal job
    postings from my home computer.  Am I able to say "I do not want to
    return to the same role, I would like the equivalent job that is
    posted?"  I'm not sure what you're asking here.  But let's face it, you can ask for anything you want.  It doesn't mean you'll get it. 

    My best wishes with this and I hope that you can re enter the workforce smoothly after your experience with cancer and treatment. 

  • Judi Swedek

    Judi Swedek on Mar 22, 2011

    Career Coach Comment:

    Hi Linda: I'd like to add to Rosalind's excellent advice...


    Review your company's policies regarding the Family & Medical Leave Act and also review your rights under the Act. Usually the policies are very specific in terms of processes and who you will need to contact and when. Follow these. Once you return to work, you can scope out what your needs are and definitely ask for the training and support you need. Present as a "win-win" for the company and you, increasing productivity.


    I tend to be conservative in terms of what I ask for...and would suggest you wait until your return to work before searching out other job opportunities. Reentry is stressful. Better not to make too many changes at once. Who knows, you may enjoy the job you are returning to and doing something that is "known" takes some pressure off as you transtion back.


    Warmest wishes to you as you make this transition...Judi

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