Be the Boss Over Cancer

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For help on deciding whether or not to tell.

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Deciding whether to tell — and who to tell — is an intensely personal decision each of us must make for ourselves. Some might consider it essential to disclose their diagnosis because they hold managerial positions or run their own business. Others consider that a reason not to tell; privacy and protection may be of the utmost concern. In either circumstance, your employer, co-workers and/or employees all depend on you not just to be there, but also to be there. They rely on the contributions you have made over time and the energy and passion you bring to the team. Your work is essential to overall productivity.

In some cases, however, the cancer and the treatment can cause side effects, like fatigue, “chemo brain” and discomfort. This may challenge productivity levels, making performing your essential job duties more difficult. Changes in productivity levels, appearance and/or any extended absences may give people reason for concern and may also cause you to consider if any job modifications or adjustments can be made to your work so that you may be a more comfortable, productive and effective employee.

Job modifications are different for everyone depending upon a number of things; your needs, your type of job environment and your job roles. These modifications are sometimes referred to as reasonable accommodations. A reasonable accommodation under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is any modification or adjustment to a job or the work environment that will enable a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the application process or to perform essential job functions. Some types of accommodations may include telecommuting, flexing your days, a different position or technological aids.

Here’s where the law may tip your decision on disclosure. The caveat is, in order to request a reasonable accommodation or medical leave, you must disclose a medical condition.