Career Options and Company Policies
If you are currently employed, it’s unlikely you’ll have to resign to pursue treatment. Try to work at a level that allows you to manage your pain and care for yourself, while maintaining financial security and adequate health insurance. You can investigate your company’s human resource policies to see if there are alternatives to full-time employment. If you think you would benefit from a more flexible work schedule, here are some options to consider:
- Part-Time Employment: Part-time employment allows time for medical visits and trying new treatments, without having to worry about missing work or how side effects will affect the quality of your work. Of course, your salary will be reduced and part-time status could affect your eligibility for continued benefits.
- Job-Sharing: Consider opportunities within your company to create a unique position. Depending on your employer’s flexibility, you may be able to share a position with another part-time employee.
- Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): Companies with more than 50 employees must provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for a serious health condition. Visit http://www.dol.gov/esa/whd/fmla/ for more information on your eligibility. Before selecting this option, make sure you understand your company’s policies regarding reinstatement to your position, years-of-service accrual and maintenance of benefits during your leave.
- Consulting/Temporary Employment: The benefit of this work option is that you can control your work schedule. It can be stressful, however, because you are responsible for generating your income, as well as paying taxes and health insurance premiums.
- Resignation: If your employer is inflexible about modifying your schedule, you can offer to resign. Your offer of resignation may or may not result in the negotiation of a reasonable alternative. A major disadvantage of resigning is that, in most states, it will make you ineligible for unemployment benefits. You may, however, qualify for a continuation of health benefits under COBRA (up to 18 months at your expense). COBRA insurance is a topic that your human resource staff should be able to explain to you. Additional information can be viewed online: http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/health-plans/cobra.htm.
- Disability: Applying for disability insurance may be necessary if your pain is severe and incapacitating. First, check if your company maintains its own disability income policy. If it doesn’t provide any coverage, you can either contact the nearest Social Security office or visit http://www.ssa.gov/disability/. The Disability Workbook for Social Security Applicants, written by attorney Douglas Smith, may also be helpful.