Understanding Medical Leave and Other Work Options

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Working while undergoing cancer treatment is not always possible. Unpleasant side effects like fatigue, headaches and nausea may force a person to cut back on their work hours or take a medical leave.

If you are diagnosed with breast cancer, you are likely full of questions and have some decisions to make. Whether to stay at work or quit your job should not be one of those decisions. Here is some important information to know regarding medical leave and other job options:

Medical leave
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, eligible employees of covered workplaces subject to the Family and Medical Leave Act are able to take up to 12 work weeks of unpaid medical leave during the course of a 12-month period if they have a serious health condition. Your spouse or parent may also be able to take medical leave in order to care for you. Unpaid medical leave of this nature guarantees that you will get your job back when you return, and there will be no consequences such as pay decreases or position changes once you are back on the job. You will also be able to remain on the company health care coverage while on leave.

If your employers is not under the FMLA​, you may not be entitled to these benefits. Speak with your company supervisor or human resources department to see how much time you may be able to take off while undergoing treatment and recovering. Be sure to ask about continuation of benefits and whether your job will still be available once you return.

Other options
Many women choose to cut back their work hours because of the fatigue associated with breast cancer treatment. Others quit their job entirely. Some take sick leave or a temporary unpaid leave in order to spend time with family and undergo necessary medical treatments. 

Talk with your doctor to see what your side effects may be like during treatment. If you are unable to work, know your options for medical and sick leave as well as cutting back hours at your job. 

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