My mom's cancer has taught me to be extremely appreciative of working for a well established company. My dad has been self-employed for more than 30 years and has always instilled in his children a disdain for corporate work culture while simultaneously instilling a fear of taking risk (go figure). My mom's full time job at a non-profit provides health benefits for herself, my dad and my two college student siblings. Naturally, the unexpected life event we all wish will never happen to us recently 'blessed' my mom when she underwent several emergency operations to discover she had a 12 cm tumor, and she is now on chemotherapy. Insurance benefits are now a huge stressor for my family as they try to figure out what to do and how to pay for it with her high deductible employer insurance. The plus side is that my mom's organization qualified under the requirements of the FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) which mandates that qualifying employers give their employees 12 weeks of unpaid leave for medical disability, maternity or adoption leave, or to care for an immediate family member undergoing medical treatment while guaranteeing their position upon their return.
Even though I've had personal medical issues in the past, it did not occur to me to inquire with an employer before accepting a position if they are mandated under FMLA and to review their FMLA policies. Rules under the Act specify longer leave time to care for a military service family member, time and private location for nursing mothers and much more.
By nature, I always try to find the silver lining in everything crappy happening in my life. The silver lining: thank goodness my mom qualifies to receive her health insurance under FMLA compliance; thank goodness she wasn't also self-employed and possibly uninsured. Could we have figured out what to do? Of course, but at least for the next 12 weeks we can focus on her treatment and recovery instead of on paying medical bills.
I already took my own advice and asked my HR department for a copy of their medical leave policy to ensure I know my rights. Corporate social responsibility has been my profession for 6 years and I always applied those values only to the policies and procedures my companies had in place to protect the public and to instill a systemic culture of ethics, governance, and compliance with laws. I now understand the importance of CSR policies that affect a company's employees and their families' lives. A responsible corporation demonstrates ethical values publicly and internally by treating its employees with dignity and high worth through its benefits: profit sharing, high quality healthcare, tuition reimbursement and family leave policies.