While the challenges facing cancer patients are vast, the obstacles their caretakers struggle with are often just as daunting. If a parent falls ill, chances are his or her adult child is still of working age and may need to juggle work schedules, family obligations and financial commitments with care-taking. Using FMLA to care for a parent with cancer is one way some Americans try to close those gaps.
What is FMLA?
The Family and Medical Leave Act is designed to help employees manage the realities of balancing work and family. Passed in 1993, the federal law allows workers of certain employers to take a leave of absence from their job if they or a family member is facing a medical crisis such as cancer, or for other significant life events, such as the birth or adoption of a child. While the law does not mandate that employers pay workers during their leave, it does guarantee that their job or an equivalent one will still be available upon their return and that the employer continues the worker’s same healthcare coverage.
How Can I Use FMLA to Care for a Parent with Cancer?
The first step to using FMLA to care for a parent with cancer or another pressing emergency is to talk to your employer. FMLA applies to all public agencies, such as local and state governments and schools, as well as private employers with at least 50 or more workers. Smaller employers can offer FMLA but are not bound by law to do so. Employees also need to meet certain requirements. They must have worked for the employer for at least one year prior to taking the FMLA—and completed a minimum of 1,250 working hours during that period.
Employees who decide to apply for FMLA can work with their HR leaders to complete necessary paperwork that documents the worker’s history with the employer and includes details about the underlying reasons for the leave. If approved by FMLA administrators, the employee is covered for a total of 12 workweeks during a one-year period. Depending on the worker’s individual circumstance, he or she can take that time in one lump sum or space it out over the 12 months in an approach known as “intermittent leave.” This may be an option that makes sense for those who take FMLA to care for a parent with cancer as he or she may be needed to transport the patient to and from appointments and therapies, or to provide in-home care, but may still be free to work normal hours outside of those obligations.
Those who use FMLA to care for a parent with cancer are better able to juggle the many stresses that come with caregiving and working — which benefits both the patient and the employer.
In addition to FMLA, there are options to help lift the financial burden on the cancer patient. The Life Credit Company is committed to helping people who need financial assistance, learn more about how to borrow from your life insurance policy.