Sunday, February 20, 2011

Office Reflection #1 -- extended sick leave, pre-leave rituals

As I write this, I’m anticipating at least a week at home following what I hope will be minor surgery tomorrow morning to repair a droopy lower eyelid resulting from previous surgery to repair some broken bones after I fell, on Labor Day, quite literally, on my face! (Bad experience, still going on, but great material for a blog or book – watch for these.)

After my original accident and surgery in September, I took three weeks of sick leave, which exhausted all the time I had banked for the year. In the months that followed, whenever I needed sick time, I either used vacation time or made up the time, dragging myself into work for extra hours when I still didn’t feel that great, cursing my fate. Then, after I found out I was going to have a second surgery for which I would need a lengthier break, I went to our HR office, where I learned that I should have filed for “extended sick leave” at the time of my accident so that I wouldn’t have to use my regular sick time up the way I had. No one had bothered to tell me this and I hadn’t asked, assuming that “extended sick leave” was only for cancer or open heart surgery or mental breakdowns, not for minor mishaps requiring a few weeks’ recovery time.  Fortunately, I was able to make this change retrospectively and start my current sick leave without the shadow of a docked pay-check looming over me. The moral: Don’t assume that you know more about your organization’s sick and vacation policies than you do – get the facts, all of them!

Before I left the office on Friday, I went through my usual pre-break rituals. These include: (1) finishing everything that will get horribly screwed up if I don’t do it myself; (2) telling colleagues everything they needed to know to cover for me in case of emergency; (3) e-mailing my boss, now out of the country, a reminder of my impending absence even though I’ve already warned him about it several times;  (4) filing all loose papers so I won’t have to come back to a mess; and (5) setting up Out-of-office messages in Outlook and on Voicemail.

What I didn’t do was give anyone my cell phone number so he or she could call me in the OR to ask where I’d filed an expense report. Until further notice, folks, Cindy Glovinsky is OUT!

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