Alleviating Workplace Woes for Cancer Patients
Updated: Dec 20, 2018
We often encounter clients who are struggling with work issues during cancer treatment. Consider the mother who must hold on to her job in order to keep health insurance for herself and her family. Many people have no idea what they are required to tell their employer or what they should share with coworkers. Clients also need answers about how they can use Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) benefits.
Likewise, local employers need dependable information about how to best support employees who have cancer without jeopardizing the success of their business.
Fortunately, the client advocates at Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana have specialized training in this area and readily offer their knowledge and guidance to both employees and employers before, during and after treatment.
If you are an employee, advocates can help:
Explain FMLA and other benefits. Employees may be unsure of the best way to share their diagnosis at the workplace, or even if they must disclose it to their employer. They may need direction on how and when to apply for FMLA, Short or Long-term Disability, or Social Security Disability benefits. We can provide that direction as well as help people understand the differences between these programs.
Facilitate open communication with an employer. Conversations with an employer can lead to better results for the employee such as a reduced work schedule during treatment weeks. Employees may also benefit from a flex-schedule or telecommuting to better accommodate work demands and treatment schedules.
Provide reasonable solutions. A quieter environment might help an employee who is struggling with chemo-fog. Employees undergoing or recovering from treatment may also need an increased number of bathroom breaks, or more opportunities to sit because of neuropathy in their feet.
If you are an employer, client advocates can help:
Balance the needs of the employee with the needs of the business. We can help employers who are seeking the best way to balance the legal rights of their employees with the needs of the business. Human Resource managers might be unsure of how to navigate the concern of other employees who might perceive an employee with cancer as receiving “favoritism.” They also may be worried about the cost of providing an employee with “reasonable accommodations.”
Prepare a strategy. Cancer Services can help businesses that currently do not have any employees with cancer, but would like a plan in place should the need present itself. Advocates can assist in providing education and support, developing a plan for working during treatment, and providing outside resources and referrals to both employees and employers to navigate through all of these concerns.
We know that employment and careers are vital aspects of the quality of life and we are here to help. For more information, visit cancer-services.org or give us a call at 260-484-9560.
Written By: Liz Karst, Client Advocate for Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana