When It’s Time to Tell Your Boss That a Close Family Member is Ill
BY Osayus Ize – Iyamu
(Interior Design Architect and Mental Health Advocate)
Getting bad news about a close family member is something we hope to never hear. There is sometimes the dilemma of knowing whether it is appropriate to share this information with your employer. Thoughts like: “Should I just keep this to myself and power through work like this isn’t happening?” or “Would this make me appear less capable at this very critical time in my career?”. Well, you are going to have to make the final decision for yourself but I’m going to guide you with 7 instances when it is probably time to book a meeting with your Boss and let him/her know:
When it is a terminal illness
Illnesses like Cancer, Diabetics, Leukemia, Alzheimer’s disease/ dementia, Multiple sclerosis, Kidney failure e.t.c indicate the health condition is “most likely” serious. We all hope that medical treatment and prayers will eventually lead to a smooth recovery but sadly, sometimes it takes years or worse…it leads to death.
When you find their condition is not getting any better
If you’ve decided to wait off a bit and you see little improvement in their health condition, then it is probably time to let them know. Besides, it helps you take things off your chest and prepares your employer for when you decide to take a leave.
When the family member is in another geographical location
Some people are lucky to have these family members in the same city or within a few hours trip by road or by air to get to them. In the case when you need to embark on a long journey or are in different continents, it is probably a good time idea to include your employer in your travel plans. Not only might they add more days at their discretion, if you include the reason there are employment standards you can take advantage of.
When you desire to take care of them
Feeling helpless about situations like this because of fear of job loss is very unsettling. If there was one thing I wish I knew earlier at the time, it would be knowing about “Family and Compassionate Care Leave”. Well here it is, generally Family and Compassionate Care Leave are unpaid leaves initiated by the employee, as time off to deal with family responsibilities without fear of job loss. The main difference between the two is Family leave is short term while Compassionate Care Leave is an extended leave. Check your local employment standards to know how many days you are entitled to and which is more appropriate for your situation.
When it is a new job or position with a high learning curve
The pressure of starting a new job or position is already intense, so adding personal problems to the mix might not be the best way to start off. Remember that timing is not in your control and letting them know early might avoid future misconceptions about your capabilities.
When this might affect your performance
As much as people try to keep personal and work separate, situations like these are very likely to affect each other. When there are clear signs that it might be doing just that, speak out.
When this is a new occurrence and you’re unsure how to deal with it
I think if this family member has been ill for years, and you have already come to terms with how to deal with the situation then it might not seem necessary opening up about this. In contrast, when it is all new to you if telling your employer is a big no for you then at least find more information at hospital resource centres about the severity of the illness and what to expect. Also, by reaching out to counsellors to advice you on what the next best steps might be.
What are your experiences with this? Has this helped you make your decision? Do you have more to add or did you learn something new? I would love to know, feel free to send an email to email@example.com