Choosing to be a caregiver is a selfless and giving act. Since mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer, caregivers are essential for patients with all stages of this disease.
A common question for us at Mesothelioma Guide is, “Who can be a mesothelioma caregiver?” The American Cancer Society defines a caregiver as anyone not paid to provide care to a person. Whether a spouse, child, parent, sibling or close friend, mesothelioma caregivers sacrifice much of their lives to help someone in need.
Another common question is, “Can mesothelioma caregivers continue working?” They often sacrifice their professional goals and time to care for the patient. These unselfish acts should not be penalized, and caregivers should know their employment rights.
We at Mesothelioma Guide list and explain three regulations that protect employment aspirations and situations for mesothelioma caregivers. If you’re a mesothelioma caregiver, or a patient researching for their caregiver, read these laws and then contact us with further questions. Our patient advocate, Jenna Campagna, is available via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and can further assist you with caregiver-related information.
The Americans With Disabilities Act is a federal law protecting caregivers from workplace discrimination. The rule applies to companies that have at least 15 employees.
The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) explained how the act helps people with caregiving responsibilities.
“Persons discriminated against because they have a known association or relationship with a disabled individual also are protected,” the EEOC website states, continuing that the government’s definition of “disabled individual” includes cancer patients.
Caregivers, therefore, should not be terminated from employment or denied employment if they can manage the job’s requirements. However, mesothelioma caregivers aren’t entitled to special treatment, such as extra time off or modifications to the workplace.
Unpaid Family Leave
Mesothelioma caregiving can be the equivalent of a full-time job. When the cancer progresses to its later stages, or when the patient undergoes invasive treatment such as surgery, more attention is required of the caregiver. Therefore, they may need to take time away from their regular routine, including their full-time employment.
The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 allows caregivers to take off work without losing their employment. The law provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off and covers a range of caregiving responsibilities:
- Traveling for medical appointments
- Post-surgery care
- Staying at home when the disease reaches its later stages and the patient cannot be left alone
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the law applies to company with at least 50 employees living within a 75-mile radius of the worksite; and caregivers who have worked for their employer for at least 12 months and at least 1,250 hours during the past 12 months.
Paid Family Leave
Not every mesothelioma caregiver can afford to take off weeks or months without any income. For that reason, some states have enacted paid family leave laws.
According to Conquer Magazine, five states (California, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Washington) provide this service to caregivers. The National Conference of State Legislatures states that Washington D.C. also has a paid family leave law.
As recently as 2017, only three states provided this assistance to mesothelioma caregivers. More states could enact similar measurements, so you should contact Mesothelioma Guide to learn if your state applies.
- Family and Medical Leave (FMLA). U.S. Department of Justice. Retrieved from: https://www.dol.gov/general/topic/benefits-leave/fmla. Accessed: 11/26/19.
- The ADA: Questions and Answers. U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Retrieved from: https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/publications/adaqa1.cfm. Accessed: 11/26/19.
- Questions and Answers: The Application of Title VII and the ADA to Applicants or Employees Who Experience Domestic or Dating Violence, Sexual Assault, or Stalking. U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Retrieved from: https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/publications/qa_domestic_violence.cfm#_edn1. Accessed: 11/26/19.
- Caring for Caregivers: Legal Tips to Help Those Who Care for Someone with Cancer. Conquer Magazine. Retrieved from: https://conquer-magazine.com/issues/2019/vol-5-no-5-october-2019/1059-caring-for-caregivers-legal-tips-to-help-those-who-care-for-someone-with-cancer. Accessed: 11/26/19.
- Paid Family Leave in the States. National Conference of State Legislatures. Retrieved from: http://www.ncsl.org/research/labor-and-employment/paid-family-leave-in-the-states.aspx. Accessed: 11/26/19.
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