When Health Issues Arise: Etiquette For Handling A Seriously Ill Employee

Health IssuesThis is a tricky situation to talk about. When you are running a liquid waste company you have a variety of employees to deal with. You have your crews that run the septic trucks, maybe some administrative employees, and everyone else involved in your business. Counting on them to make the business run smoothly is part of how a company works naturally. It’s like a wrench gets thrown into the works when someone is ill.
Every person is essential to their part of the job. So what do you do when you have a treasured employee who becomes seriously ill? Sometimes this can happen out of nowhere with heart issues or diabetes taking them down for the count with chronic problems, or maybe it’s a cancer diagnosis that is impacting their life. When health issues arise, how do you as an employer handle it? Here are some etiquette tips for handling a seriously ill employee with the right care and intention.

Let’s Look At Some Of The Laws First

Chronic illnesses fall under the Americans With Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA), which was put into place in 2009. That means overall an employer can’t discriminate regarding employment based on an illness and has to make reasonable accommodations including an “interactive dialog.” This is one of the most important parts of the process for an employer to take to heart – good communication. Don’t shy away from that.
You should be engaged with your employee enough to understand how they are doing with their illness. Make it a habit to ask how they are doing, in private, and if there is anything they might need from you to make it easier for them to work. Most employees who have a chronic illness still want to keep working, when they can. It also helps with the healing process, because a lot of people actually like their jobs and want to get back to their regular routine of work. Let them know still how important they are to your team, because that helps give your employee purpose while they are trying to get well.

How The Family Medical Leave Act Works

The Family Medical Leave Act works to allow an ill employee to take up to 12 weeks off of unpaid medical leave. This includes caring for an ill family member, if that is the case. You have to hold their position when they return to the company. Keep in mind this act is only geared toward companies that have more than 50 employees. If you have less than that, it’s up to you on what you are going to offer. Most companies follow the policies of the FMLA anyway and put that in writing in their employee handbooks.

When An Employee Is In The Hospital

Some acknowledgement is the way to go here, etiquette wise. In the liquid waste industry, many owners work right alongside their employees on a very regular basis. You are probably pretty tight with your crews. That means if one of your employees ends up in the hospital for surgery, a health crisis, or even just treatment for a chronic illness, the right thing to do is to plan a visit, talk with the family, and in general offer your support. Just knowing that an employee’s job is safe and that they are missed sometimes helps with the healing process. Take the time to do what you can for that person and their family. Even a card, flowers, or just regular email contact helps during a serious time of treatment for an illness like cancer.

Above All Be Human

This isn’t the time to go into robot mode. Let your caring and genuinely empathic side show to the employee who is ill. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and compassion, especially during a time of medical crisis. Companies who aren’t supportive are naturally going to have employees, when they eventually come back to work, that are going to be resentful.

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