Paid time off is pretty standard at most jobs: We start with a week or two in the first year, and then we get more time off the longer we stick around. Occasionally, though, we need to take a longer absence from work due to circumstances beyond our control. These aren’t extended vacations or even sabbaticals, but rather a break that’s necessary for us to heal our bodies. There are a variety of ways to do this, including using the Family Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, which provides for up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off without losing your job. The exact mechanism depends a lot on the specific reasons why you need to be out of the office.
Serious Medical Conditions
A diagnosis of cancer is a gut-wrenching one. It can totally throw your world off-kilter and make you reconsider everything. Depending on the specific diagnosis, your doctor may recommend treatment that includes things like chemotherapy and radiation. Coping with symptoms like nausea and fatigue is difficult even under ideal circumstances. It’s worse when you’re worried about whether or not you’ll be able to keep up with your responsibilities at work. It’s easier said than done, but try and put your immediate focus on talking with your medical team about the best plan of attack for whatever version of the disease you have. You can most likely find a service like New Jersey state-of-the-art treatments and cancer care services in the city where you live, so don’t worry about having to travel a long distance for treatment unless your doctor brings it up for a specific reason.
Once you have an idea of what the next few weeks and months will look like from a medical standpoint, talk to your boss and/or the Human Resources department at work. They may be OK with you calling in sick occasionally and working from home more often. It depends on how your office operates. It’s OK to tell them you want to fill out the paperwork to take formal leave under FMLA. If you’re worried about losing your health insurance, know that the law requires that your group health benefits stay current during your leave. You may have to work out a different way of paying the premiums if you aren’t drawing a paycheck, but that’s something to discuss with HR.
An on-the-job Injury
Injuries at work can happen in just about any profession, even if it’s one that doesn’t involve much physical labor beyond fast typing. Some industries are obviously more dangerous than others; construction accounted for more than 1 in 5 worker fatalities in 2016, but, no matter what your career is, never assume you’re immune to getting hurt.
If you get hurt on the job, you typically have the right to file a claim for workers’ compensation. Laws vary by state, but you should be suspicious if your boss tells you that you don’t qualify because he or she doesn’t employ enough people. A boss willing to cheat his or her employees on things like workers’ compensation might also be cheating them in other areas as well. It may take a few days or a few weeks, but you’ll eventually work with others to develop a plan for returning to work. If you feel like work is pressuring you or that something still isn’t quite right, you’re welcome to hire legal help. If you’re in the Garden State, for instance, New Jersey workers’ compensation attorneys will be happy to walk you through the sometimes overwhelming process.