How to take a leave of absence from work

April 17, 2014 Nina Mehta

As it turns out, I’m not invincible. In September I broke my most expensive finger and in February had to get surgery. It’s an especially difficult joint to heal so I had to spend 9 weeks out of work recovering. That’s a long time for someone who likes their job and being around people. Today’s my first day back to work. I’m pointing, dragging, clicking and typing like a pro.

Hopefully you’ll never have to take a leave of absence. But if you do, here’s how I recommend you go about it:

  • As soon as it’s possible you may have to take time off, talk with your manager, Client Liaison and HR. Let them guide the right way to talk about it with your client and team.
  • Ask your doctor for a prediction for how long you’ll be out. They will have to provide this information to our insurance company. Do not assume the insurance company is talking to Pivotal Labs or your manger.
  • Schedule a meeting with someone in HR and go through the paperwork together in person. Taking short term disability with the State of California is slow, complex and annoying. The more paperwork you can complete before leaving work the better.
  • Talk in person to someone in IT. They will make it possible for you to report your time differently while you’re out. Openair makes it possible to duplicate an entire week of billed time. Let your manager know and talk about billing a few weeks of your time off in advance so you can focus on recovery.
  • When you have trouble with the State of California’s system, do not spend one second trying to get through to them over phone or email. It’s impossible and all the tips to get in touch on Google are outdated. Go to their office in person. They are at 745 Franklin Street, Suite 300. The people there are kind and patient and I never had to wait in a long line.
  • Keep your manager in the loop on how you’re doing. A quick note (even 3-4 words) helps them know how it’s going and how they can help. They can also help talk to someone in person in the office if you need help with paperwork or other questions.
  • Contact someone at HR EMC, HR Pivotal Labs and your manager about a week before your return. Let them know if you have any work restrictions. Your doctor can help you figure this out. It’s important to contact all of these people so they’re ready for you. Talk to someone on the phone at EMC, they can unlock a chain of events that actives you again in the system.
  • Schedule a 1:1 with your manager for the day you return. This is a good opportunity to catch up on how things have changed and what needs you may have. This also helps them learn how to help someone who has to go on leave.
  • Get meals delivered to you from The Munchery.
  • Remind your colleagues you’re not going on vacation. This one is tough. From the outside it can seem that you’re having fun at home with Netflix Marathons and eating cookies in bed. Everyone recovers and deals with pain in different ways. Take the time you need and don’t feel guilty about needing time off.

I hope you never have to do any of these things. But if you do, I’m sorry and am happy to help.

About the Author


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