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Cancer and Your Career


A diagnosis of cancer is devastating. While your primary concern should be about getting proper treatment and healing, unfortunately you will have to deal with some issues related to your career.

You will have to decide whether to take time off from work during the course of your treatment. Some people choose to devote all their energy to healing, while others find that working provides a good distraction. Of course, it all depends on how you’re feeling. If you decide to take time off during the course of your treatment, remember that the Family and Medical Leave Act (U.S.) allows most workers 12 weeks of leave each year, due to, among other things, a serious illness. You cannot lose your job because of your absence. An employee need not take the leave all at once. If necessary he or she may take leave in weeks, days, or even hours. This leave can even include a shortened work week. The FMLA does not provide for paid leave. However, you may be covered by private disability insurance, which will allow you to be paid during your absence from work. If you need to be out of work for at least a year, you may be eligible for the disability benefits program that is administered by the United States Social Security Administration (SSA).

Whether or not you choose to disclose your illness to your employer is up to you. If you decide to take time off from work, according to the Family and Medical Leave Act, you do not have to disclose the nature of your illness to your employer. However, you may need to provide certification confirming that a serious health condition exists.

You cannot be discriminated against because of your illness. Most employees are protected by theAmericans With Disabilities Act (ADA). Cancer is considered a disability for the purposes of this law. This means that your employer can’t treat you any differently than other employees of the company and must make reasonable accommodations if necessary.

While most employers will be sympathetic to their workers’ needs, there are some who are more concerned with their bottom line and how their employee’s illness will affect it. You need to protect your rights. The following resources can help you find out how to make sure your rights are protected:

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