She’s a pink warrior…

Yes, that is me wearing the Pink Survivor shirt. Most people who know me away from work know that I am a 9 year breast cancer survivor and my volunteer passion is with Susan G. Komen for the Cure.  But a lot of my clients had no idea I went through a year of breast cancer treatment.  I hid my bald head under a totally hot wig (and I’m talking heat here not looks!), drug myself out of bed and met all my client commitments.  I didn’t share my cancer diagnosis with everyone because well…I’m self employed and I didn’t want anyone not giving me business because they thought I was too sick or wouldn’t be around to finish the job.  So how do you deal humanely with people in your workplace who are facing a serious health condition, and balance all those FMLA, ADA, etc. regulations?  Fear of losing income and health benefits is a top concern for your employee in this situation. Trust me…

  1. Gather all your leave and benefit policies — FMLA, PTO, vacation, sick, short term and long term disability. Understand how they  connect and how they can be used to optimize time off that the person might need.  Even if your benefits are outsourced, be there to explain and assist.  This is THE MOST HUMANE aspect HR can help with. Navigating the world of insurance and benefit plans can be a nightmare, even for the seasoned HR professional. Trust me once again…
  2. If you are “in the know” do not discuss the person’s medical condition with anyone.  Caution management employees in the know also.   Not only is this an ADA requirement, but everyone approaches their disease in a different manner.  Let them be the one to communicate and share information as they see fit.  Coworkers are often a great source of comfort and have the ability to rally for each other.  This support is invaluable as long as it isn’t crossing any lines.
  3. When in doubt, err on the side of being human.  You have to be consistent with your policies and benefit plans, but know where you have some wiggle room and wiggle.
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