Cancer — not to mention the side effects from treatment — can be intense. While some people are able to continue working while managing their illness, others may have to take time off from their jobs.
A recent Idealist article titled “Before You Go | How to Prep for Your Leave of Absence” indicates that for those who decide to take time off, preparing for that leave is critical to establishing themselves as responsible, valuable employees. The article outlines steps to assist with that process. Below, we’ve highlighted three that are particularly useful for cancer patients and survivors:
- Get familiar with your company’s policies and know your rights. First things first: Be aware that there are laws that protect employees who need time off. The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 allows eligible employees to take job-protected, unpaid leave for family and medical reasons. While the FMLA requires certain employers to grant family and medical leave when needed, it is still important to make sure you read the fine print of your company’s leave policies. Your employer may offer a more generous leave plan or may have specific requirements that must be met before you can take time away.
- Give plenty of notice. It’s important to give your employer as much of a head’s up as possible about needing time away, so he/she can prepare for your absence, including determining which coworkers will handle your projects, etc. Before you notify your boss, you’ll want to think carefully about how much information you want to share regarding your medical condition. And whatever you decide, be sure to communicate your preferences with your healthcare team, so that you’re able to maintain your privacy as desired when it comes to filling out any related forms (e.g., official leave-request forms, medical certification forms).
- Formulate a game plan. You’ll want to show your employer that, although you’ll be gone for a period of time, you are still committed to the company. One way to do this is to work with your boss to map out an agreement that will ensure everyone’s needs are addressed during your absence. Start by creating a list of your key duties, as well as suggestions for who might be able to handle them while you’re away. Keep in mind that there is no perfect plan, but being proactive in coming up with one will demonstrate to your manager your level of professionalism and responsibility.
For more on work and cancer treatment, click here.
For additional information on FMLA and your legal rights in the workplace, click here.
You might also want to consult our Manger’s Kit for helpful strategies on starting the conversation with your employer and tips for working with HR.
Also, be sure to check out our Video Archive for recorded webinars on disclosure and how to advocate for yourself to your employer regarding your specific needs at work, including taking time off.
For the full Idealist article, click here.