Flexibility Required for Medical Conditions

February 15, 2011

I was contacted recently by an individual looking for an employer with flexibility due to a medical condition.

I have been working in work life balance for many years, but somehow have never really focused on this very important group of people.

Those suffering or recovering from a medical illness that restricts them from working in a full-time capacity.

Work life balance is a desire by many Australians, however for some, it is a necessity if they are to continue to work and also keep their health challenges at bay.

I hope that employers are providing particular support and attention to those individuals who may require additional flexibility or support during their time of need.

Several years ago I worked in an organisation where an employee unfortunately was diagnosed with cancer.  Having been healthy all of my life, I could never fully understand what she was going through and saw a variety of needs that she required of her employer over a period of time.

From her immediate absence from work to treat this disease to her transition back to work when she was in remission.  This started firstly a few hours per week, then a few days per week, then back to full time.

This flexibility not only allowed her to get back into the workforce, but it was a matter of getting her life back on track again.

I guess if any of us were in that situation, we would want that flexibility but also genuine support from our employer.  Should any of your staff be faced with a medical condition that you are unsure how to support them try referring them to human resources or a relevant professional to speak to them about their situation, find out what they need and how you can be of assistance.

Should your organisation offer an employee assistance program and/or salary continuance, you may wish to advise the employee or their family member of the services available and how to access them.

The other important element of support when dealing with the personal lives of any employee, in particular medical conditions, it is essential to respect their privacy.

We hope that you and your employees are never faced with such a challenge, however I think it’s important to consider how you would want to be treated if you were ever in that situation.

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