Will My Job Be There After Surgery?


Q. I’ve received a serious medical diagnosis that’s going to require surgery and a lengthy two month recovery. Luckily, the company where I’ve worked for two years offers good insurance; but because we’re small (fewer than 50 employees) they’re not required through the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to offer medical leave and hold my job while I’m gone.

So now I’m scared not just about getting through the surgery but also about whether I’m going to have a job after it’s over. How should I approach my employer about the situation?

A. I’m sorry about your diagnosis. Let’s look at how we can improve your chances of keeping your job after you recover.

Like so many things in life, I think the best approach would be honesty and goodwill. What would that look like?

First, I would talk to your employer and let them know what’s going on; keep it big-picture and drama-free. For instance you could say something like “I just found I need to have surgery and is going to take two months to recover”.

Clearly acknowledge that you know the company is not required to allow you to go on medical leave and much less to keep your job open. Then make a case for why you hope that they still consider doing so in your situation.

This is where you need to think of every business reason why it’s a good idea to keep your job open until you return. For example you can remind them of the investment the company has already made in you, point out upcoming projects for which your skill set is a perfect fit. Highlight the cost and hassle of recruiting for your replacement. Suggest which parts of your job could be transferred to a temp.

If they seem receptive, give as much detail as you feel comfortable regarding your health. For example, when the surgery scheduled, what the recovery might look like, how long it might take, whether you might be able to work part-time from home.

Lastly, if they agree to keep your job open for you, it will likely be without pay. Just make sure they keep you on the payroll and enrolled in health insurance, even if you have to send them a check for your part of the premium.

A good outcome for both your surgery and your job is quite possible. Keeping fingers crossed.


Originally posted on HR Box.

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