According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, those who undergo spinal fusion are likely to be off work for four to six weeks assuming they are young and healthy, and the job is not overly strenuous. For older patients with more extensive surgery, it may take four to six months to recover for a return to work.
Any major medical procedure that requires a lengthy period of recovery is bound to raise a lot of questions, due to the necessary time off from work. But, because back surgery is generally not something prospective patients rush into, it allows for the much-needed time to plan appropriately.
While many businesses offer full-time employees paid time off for illness or medical appointments, time for extended rest and recuperation can be more of a challenge. Consider the answers to these important questions in order to plan your time away from work and decrease the chances of job loss.
How Do I Notify My Employer, and How Soon?
Prior to notifying your employer, secure a paper from your health care provider stating you will need to be out of work. It should list the reason you will not be able to work, the date you’ll need to stop working and the date you’re anticipated to return.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) permits the employer to require employees obtain a completed certification from their health care provider. It should have the medical professional’s signature and be on official letterhead. The FMLA also states an employee must give at least 30 days’ notice for a planned medical procedure, or “as soon as practicable,” according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Giving your employer advanced notice will demonstrate your professionalism, and also help your employer plan for your absence. Ideally, you should offer to create a written plan that will help the replacement take over your tasks while you’re out.
Am I Eligible for the Family and Medical Leave Act?
The U.S. Family and Medical Leave Act offers some protections for those who need to take an extended leave from work. However, specific criteria must be met and certain procedures have to be followed. Your first step should be to check with your human resources department to determine if you are eligible.
Some businesses, such as private employers with less than 50 employees, are not covered under the FMLA. However, they may be covered under state family and medical leave laws.
How Do I Find Out What Insurance Will Cover?
If you have a benefits coordinator or designated person at your workplace for health and/or disability insurance benefits, you should set up a meeting to discuss coverage. When insurance companies don’t allow payment, it’s usually because the consumer did not follow required procedures or didn’t understand limits of coverage, according to nolo.com. You should also make sure you’re clear on how payment works. In addition to, or in lieu of, speaking with the appropriate person at work, you should read your health and (long and short term) disability insurance policies thoroughly. If you have questions, you should also speak with a representative at the insurance company.
Getting Back to Work
The quicker you’re able to recover, the sooner you can get back to work and alleviate any job worries. Following your doctor’s post-surgery rehabilitation program is a must, as is getting enough quality sleep, which will help your body heal faster.
Appropriate exercise, including stretching, can also significantly enhance the healing and recovery process. With your physician’s OK, participating in spine exercises can contribute to a quicker recovery as well.