Episode 14: Using FMLA for Fibromyalgia with Julie Hamilton

Episode 14: Using FMLA for Fibromyalgia with Julie Hamilton

Using FMLA for Fibromyalgia with Julie Hamilton

How the Family Medical Leave Act Can Help You Work Through the Healing Process

  • “I used to be a good employee until fibromyalgia came along.” There may still be ways for you to be that employee again, through using things like the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to take some time off, to heal, and to feel better.
  • Healing can be a full-time job in itself! The FMLA can cover your time away from work, and it also guarantees your job after your return to work.
  • You do not have to be a full-time employee in order to use the FMLA.
  • The Family Medical Leave Act also protects your confidentiality.
  • There are a lot of rules and guidelines, both for the employee and the employer, in order for you to use the FMLA. Julie can help you understand these requirements.
  • It is CRITICAL that you know how to navigate the rules and guidelines, otherwise your FMLA claim may be denied and your wages unrecoverable.

Do you worry that your job could be in jeopardy due to your struggle with fibromyalgia? Did you know that the Family Medical Leave Act can protect your job while you take time away to heal? Julie Hamilton is an expert on FMLA and has used it with her clients and in her own healing journey with fibromyalgia. She joins us today to detail exactly what the FMLA requires in order for you to take advantage of it, and to describe what situations the Act may cover on your own healing journey as a valuable employee.

About Julie Hamilton

Julie Hamilton is a Certified Fibromyalgia Coach, Life Coach and Youth Life Coach. She has over 20 years experience as a Human Resources Director and Manager, with the last nine years in healthcare. In her role as an HR Director and Manager, she educated her coworkers, particularly nursing professionals, on the treatment and management of living with fibromyalgia. 

Julie has worked with the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) since its inception in 1993, knows the requirements, and can effectively advise individuals on the necessities when working with their employer when they have a chronic disease. Julie’s specialty is helping young professionals who are frustrated with their health to excel in their career and regain their active social lives.

Links & Resources

  • Get a free copy of Tami’s book, Take Back Your Life: Find Hope and Freedom From Fibromyalgia Symptoms and Pain at FibromyalgiaPodcast.com/books.
  • The FMLA checklist walks you through all of the requirements and deadlines that you need to follow when applying to use the FMLA. Email Julie directly at JHamilton@CoachingPI.com for a copy.
  • Julie also has an assessment tool to help you understand whether or not you need to request special work accommodations, if you need to use the FMLA, or if you need to file for disability. You can get that assessment on Julie’s website: CoachingPI.com.
  • Below you will find both a full transcript and video of the episode, with the studies mentioned in the show linked in the transcript.
Play Video

Transcript

You are listening to the Fibromyalgia Podcast with Tami Stackelhouse, Episode 14.

Welcome to the Fibromyalgia Podcast! I’m your Coach, Tami Stackelhouse.

In this episode, we are going to be talking with an expert about the Family Medical Leave Act.

[01:01]  Before we jump into that, though, I just want to do a quick listener shout out. I received a very sweet email this last week from Jayne at SeeJayneRun.com

She said, “I stumbled across your terrific podcast a few days ago and feel absolutely invigorated. There just may be hope after all. Thank you for your advocacy. Your voice is imperative to those of us with invisible disabilities.” 

Thank you so much Jayne! 

As you guys know, doing this podcast is a lot of work, and reviews like this — comments like this, emails like this — help me to remember that I’m not just talking to dead air when I’m recording these episodes. There are actually people out there listening, and that it’s making a difference in your life. And that makes a difference in my life! So, please, keep them coming.

[02:01]  Share these episodes with fibromyalgia folks that you know that need a little bit of hope and encouragement, and if you feel so inclined, I would love to have you share your feedback with me, as a review on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

[02:21]  I also wanted to answer a question that I received in the last week. I had somebody ask about how often these podcast episodes are released. 

She said, “I noticed you were every week in May, but then they’ve been every other week since then” and she was just curious about that. So, I thought it might be good to share that here on the podcast because usually when there’s one person with a question, there are others with the same question.

[02:53]  The answer to that is this: we did a special during the month of May, in honor of Fibromyalgia Awareness Day being in May. We decided to release episodes every week. But our standard for releasing episodes is actually every other week. We have done that specifically because we are fibromyalgia people ourselves, and we want to make sure that, number one, we can keep doing the podcast! There are so many people out there who start a podcast and then they have “podfade”, it’s called, where they just sort of fade off into nothingness.

[03:39]  I don’t want that to happen with the Fibromyalgia Podcast. I want to be able to keep doing this for many years to come. So the podcast needs to be done in a way that is fibro-friendly for me and fits in with my travel schedule, fits in with me working with my private clients, and fits in with the classes that I teach. In order to make all of that happen and be able to continue doing the podcast, we have chosen to release episodes every other week. There may be a point in the future where we change that, but at least for now, as I record this in 2019, we will be releasing episodes every other week.

[04:24]  You are always welcome to follow us on Facebook or sign up for our newsletter and listen in other ways to other interviews that I do or, just watch social media for other posts if you need encouragement between those podcast episodes. But, for now, be watching them to show up every other week.

[04:49]  Now, I would like to dig into the meat of our episode today. I would like to introduce you to Julie Hamilton. She is our expert that I’m interviewing this week. Julie is a Certified Fibromyalgia Coach, Life Coach, and Youth Life Coach. She has over 20 years experience as a Human Resources Director and Manager. She is a graduate of the International Fibromyalgia Coaching Institute. She was actually part of the very first class that I taught back in 2015, and the last nine years that she spent in HR was actually in healthcare. She has a lot of experience when it comes to both HR and when it comes to healthcare needs.

[05:43]  Julie specifically helps professionals who are frustrated with their health to excel in their career and to regain their active social life. When she was an HR Director/Manager, she educated her coworkers, particularly nursing professionals, on the treatment and management of living with fibromyalgia. During her career, she has developed good people skills through employee coaching and counseling, developing and leading mentor groups, managing employees, and training and development within several different organizations.

[06:20]  She has actually worked with the Family Medical Leave Act (the FMLA) since its inception, which was quite a while ago, back in the early 90s. Julie fully knows all of the requirements and can really advise individuals on the necessities when working with their employer when they have a chronic disease. This is one of her areas of expertise and why I have invited her here on this podcast.

[06:51]  Stay tuned — at the end of her interview I’m going to share a little bit of additional information regarding her interview and how you can get some resources. As always, as you’re listening to this, remember you don’t have to worry about taking notes, just go to FibromyalgiaPodcast.com/14 to get the notes for this particular episode, including all of the tools and goodies that Julie has for you. 

Enjoy!

[07:24]  TS — Welcome to the Fibromyalgia Podcast. This is your Coach, Tami Stackelhouse, and I am here with Julie Hamilton. 

As I said in the introduction, Julie is one of my best coaches and has been working with the FMLA since it started. I’ve invited her here to give you some background and give you some tips on how you might be able to use the Family Medical Leave Act to help you feel better from your fibromyalgia.

[07:54]  TS — First, Julie, you want to say hello? And, I want to actually just tell a quick story. I told Julie this before we started recording, but I want you guys to hear this too. This is exactly why I have invited Julie to join us.

[08:12]  TS — Several years ago, before I met Julie, I had a client who decided to use the Family Medical Leave Act to take some time off from work so that she could focus on healing some issues with her fibromyalgia and a few other things that were going on in her life. She filed the paperwork, left on her leave, and when she got back after a month and a half, she realized that she had actually missed some deadlines. So that time actually wasn’t covered! That is really a tough thing to all of a sudden to realize that you have missed out on a month and a half of wages. 

This is exactly why we’re here today, because Julie is the expert on all things FMLA. She can give us some tips and guidelines, so that you don’t end up in a situation like that. So, thanks for being here, Julie.

[09:08]  JH — You’re welcome. I’m so excited. I’m kind of like one of those HR geeks and I love this kind of stuff.

[09:14]  TS — Totally, totally. I know you had said that you’ve worked with the FMLA since it started, which has been a few years ago now.

[09:23]  JH — Yes, I believe it was [1993]. So, yes. It actually started — I’m sure you all care about this, just like I do — it actually started because of Arthur Ash, the great tennis player back in the time who had AIDS. When he checked himself into the hospital, it kind of went rapid through the system and everything that he had AIDS. That’s where our Family Medical Leave Act comes in. It covers that, but it’s also with regard to confidentiality.

[10:02]  TS — Oh, interesting! You know, I’ve always wondered, and I don’t think I’ve ever asked you this — where the intersection between all of this stuff, like special work accommodations, which we’re going to talk about in the next episode, and the FMLA, and the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), and how all of that works together.

[10:22]  JH — It’s very interesting and exciting for me, but I know I’m a geek! 

It’s really to protect the employee, to protect their job when they’re off work, or if they have some kind of a disability or anything like that. It’s very important that we, as employees, understand it. It’s also important for the employer, because they have to really understand how to administer it. Through my husband, I have learned that not everyone administers it correctly.

[11:13]  TS — Right, right. Exactly, exactly. 

I know that there are a lot of rules and guidelines, both for the employee and the employer, to try to make it fair for both sides of things. Why don’t you start off by telling us a few scenarios where you have used the FMLA, either in your own life or with your clients, to give people an idea of how this might be used? Then, we’ll dive into more of the specifics and give people some education and some coaching around this.

[11:48]  JH — Okay. Well, the first thing I want to do is define — what is FMLA? Because, you know, I throw [that term] around all the time, but if you’re not familiar with it or work with it daily, you don’t know what that acronym means.

“FMLA” is Family Medical Leave Act, and what it does is it covers an employee who has to be away from work for a medical illness. I’m just going to pertain it to someone with fibromyalgia, for their own medical illness. It can be unpaid or paid, depending on the company guidelines, for up to twelve weeks. With the fibromyalgia person, we have flares. I have used it when I was the HR Director. I used that to cover my flare-up days. So, it guaranteed my position, and those absences didn’t count against my attendance. If your company has attendance guidelines, they couldn’t fire [you] for attendance.

[13:03]  TS — Right, right.

I know in my old life, we had Personal Paid Leave, and it was a combination of sick time and vacation We could use it however we needed to. I found that I used almost all of my days for medical stuff. Then what happens when you use it up and then you’re in a flare, right?

[13:23]  JH — Yes. I’ve also worked with my clients on if they need time away from work to heal. Because sometimes that’s the hardest job we’ll have — and it’s a full-time job — is just to lay on the couch or lay in bed and let your body heal. It covers their time away for that, but it also guarantees their job after they return to work. It just protects them.

[13:57]  TS — Awesome. 

So what are some examples of situations where you’ve used this with either yourself or with clients?

[14:05]  JH — Mine was personally during flare-ups. I would… When I first started having fibromyalgia, or first diagnosed, I was gone a lot with it. But, towards the end, I had it managed so I only had one or two flares a year, and it’d be, maybe, one or two days. That would be called “intermittent.” Intermittent is where you’re at work, then you’re gone, then you’re at work, and gone. 

The best example that I can always think of to give people, is like if you have cancer. You know? You’re feeling good. You take chemo, and you don’t feel very good for a few days. Then, you go back to work. Then, you have another round of chemo, and you’re off work for a few days. That’s kind of like us with our flare-ups. We have fibromyalgia, and we’re just “cooking with gas” — going really good. And then, all of a sudden… “Oh, dang, I’m having a flare-up. I can’t get out of bed today.” That would cover those intermittent days or sporadic days.

[15:11]  TS — Right. And, just to be clear, for the people who are listening, what you’re saying here is that those twelve weeks of leave don’t have to be taken all in a row. It can be a few days here, a few days there, a few weeks…

[15:27]  JH — Yes. 

And then there are individuals who —I had a client who had to be off for four to six weeks for healing. So, you know, that covers those four to six weeks she was off but still guaranteed her job.

So, there are three requirements that I want to pop in here so people know whether you or your company qualifies for it first. Because, if the qualifications… If you don’t meet those, you can’t use it. 

  1. One is your employer has to have at least 50+ employees. If you have 25 [employees], you don’t qualify for it.
  2. The other thing is you have to have worked for the company for twelve months, and…
  3. Worked 1,250 hours in those twelve months.

[16:28]  TS — That’s one of those things where it’s designed to be fair, right? I worked for a company where we had less than 20 employees. When one person was gone, it had a big impact on the company. And so, when I’m wearing my employer hat, I understand how that is fair. Same thing with having an employee who’s been around for at least a year, because you know, there were times we hired one person and a few weeks after she started working for us… “Oh, by the way, I’m pregnant.” And it’s like, “…oh… okay…”

[17:12]  JH — Absolutely. But our requirement, the 1,250 [hours] also covers…

Let’s say you’re a three-quarter employee — you only work three quarter-time, you know? It still covers them. Or even some part-time people. It does cover that as well.

[17:35]  TS — Do you have to meet whichever is more? Like a year OR the thousand hours? So, if you’re a half-time employee, does that mean two years? By the time you get the hours or…?

[17:48]  JH — Just 12 months and 1,250 hours in that 12 month period.

[17:54]  TS — Do you know off hand what that number of hours works out to for? I suppose I can do the math.

[18:03]  JH — Know that a full-time employee works 2,080 [hours].

[18:07]  TS — Oh, okay. Okay. So that is about a half-time employee then.

[18:11]  JH — About a half-time, yes, because 2,080 plus two weeks vacation is really how they figure a full-time employee.

[18:20]  TS — Okay, cool.

[18:22]  JH — Then, when you decide that you want to go on Family Medical Leave, there’s just several steps to go through and those are where those timelines are critical.

[18:38]  TS — Yes. That’s where I didn’t know all the things I know now, to be able to help my client through that. Because she and I — neither one really realized what those deadlines were. I’m super excited for you to share that stuff with us.

[18:55]  JH — When you first know that you want to go on FMLA, you need to talk to your supervisor — your HR person — and notify them. A lot of them will require you to bring in a doctor’s note. If you’re going to the doctor and your doctor says, “I really think you need to take some time off,” have them write that note right there, and take it into your employer. This is the beginning of the critical timeline right here: *They have 14 days to get that paperwork to you. That’s the first critical thing.

[19:38]  JH — Second thing is: *You have 15 days to return that paperwork back. That paperwork you complete and your doctor completes.

[19:50]  TS — Sorry. Just to clarify… That’s paperwork from your employer?

[19:55]  JH — Yes. They have 14 days to mail it to you. You complete your section — and it’s very basic, like: your name, address, date hired, something like that. Then, take it to your doctor and they complete it. I always encouraged my employees that were using it, and I also encourage my clients — make sure you call the doctor’s office and keep reminding them, because that 15 days is crucial.

[20:23]  TS — And it goes by fast, I bet.

[20:26]  JH — It does go by fast. And if you’re outside of the guidelines, your company can deny it then. So, it’s very, very important that you get that.

When you’re on the leave, your employer may require you to check in periodically, give updates on how you’re doing. Some do and some don’t. 

Then, when you’re ready to come back to work, they may require you to bring a doctor’s note saying you can come back now. Then, your leave ends, so to speak.

[21:10]  JH — When I was on leave, I was on it long term. Every 12 months you have to get recertified. I know that’s a lot of stuff I’m throwing out here. But that’s kind of crucial too. Your employers should let you know when that happens.

[21:31]  TS —I’m just going to pause right here just to remind everybody: I know Julie’s talking about some really crucial deadlines and things like that. If you’re listening to this podcast while you’re driving in the car, or taking a walk, or whatever it might be, just remember that we’ve got all of this out there — the transcript and the notes at FibromyalgiaPodcast.com. This is episode 14, so just go to FibromyalgiaPodcast.com/14 and you will find all of this.

[22:05]  TS — Julie, this might be a good time to mention too, that you’ve actually got a checklist with all of these dates and deadlines to help people keep on track. I will have Julie’s email address in the show notes, but why don’t you go ahead and give that to people now too.

[22:22]  JH — Yes. If you would like a copy of my FMLA checklist, just drop me an email. And my email is…. JHamilton@CoachingPI.com

[22:52]  TS — This is why we’ll have it all out there in the show notes for you guys. I’ll have Julie’s email so all you have to do is click on it and send her a message; we’ll get you the checklist.

[23:03]  JH — Absolutely.

[23:20]  TS — Awesome. So… they’ve got 14 days to get you the paperwork to fill out. You’ve got 15 days to get it back to them.

[23:29]  JH — Yes, ma’am.

[23:30]  TS — Are there other deadlines after that or is that pretty well…? And then recertification?

[23:36]  JH — Recertification. I think that’s about it, except returning back to work. If there’s a return to work date, you really have to be aware of that, or if you need it extended or things like that.

[23:51]  TS — Is there anything different… If you’re someone who knows you’re going to be having flare-ups and that you need your leave to be intermittent — versus “I need to take a month and a half off to do some healing” — is there any differences in how you fill out the paperwork?

[24:10]  JH — Not in how you fill it out, but it’s how your doctor fills it out. I’ve always encouraged individuals who have fibromyalgia: make sure your doctor puts on there that it can be intermittent as well. There’s a box that they check for that, because that would cover [you] if you want to be off six weeks, but it would also cover [you] if two months down the road you have to be off a day or two because you’re having a flare. Okay?

[24:41]  JH — Also, Family Medical Leave covers your doctors appointments. So, if you have to go to a doctor for your fibromyalgia — and it’s not because you have the flu or cold, but if it’s going to pertain to whatever your doctor has on your paperwork — if you have to go to the doctor for your fibromyalgia, it will cover that appointment, as well.

[25:05]  TS — Which would also, I imagine, include things like: if you’re going to physical therapy or if you’re getting acupuncture, if you’re getting a massage. As long as it’s fibro-related treatment, that it would fall under that doctor’s note. Right?

[25:19]  JH — It should. Yes.

[25:21]  TS — And that would also, because it’s the Family Medical Leave Act, [cover] if somebody who has to take you to that appointment. Can’t they also potentially apply if they’re caring for somebody else?

[25:36]  JH — Yes. Let’s say my spouse has to drive me… because if I’m in a flare, I’ve learned two things. When I’m in a flare, I cannot drive, and I cannot shop on the Internet because I’ve ordered stuff directly from China! It came on the slow boat, yes. My husband could apply for FMLA because he would have to take care of me. You know, take me to those doctors appointments, any other therapy-type appointments. So, yes, it will cover their hours as well.

[26:12]  JH — One thing I also want to let people know is FMLA is confidential. Let’s say Tami is my supervisor. Tami can’t go out and tell all of my coworkers why I’m on FMLA or why I’m gone. I think that’s important. I’ll talk a little bit more about that in our next episode on workplace accommodations, because it’s confidential. Not everyone needs to know your own medical business. Even though everyone thinks it’s their business. It’s not their business.

[26:52]  TS — Right, right. Exactly. I imagine, though, that if I’m an employee and I’m noticing, “Hey, the chick across the aisle from me is gone an awful lot.” …Would the supervisor be able to say that you’re on FMLA or is even the fact that you’re on FMLA confidential?

[27:14]  JH — No, they can say you’re on FMLA. They just don’t need to know the reason. 

I actually had this occur with my clients. My client and this co-worker’s desks were next to each other. My client would be off work and back and off work and back. Her coworker got very upset about her being gone and would say things — derogatory comments — very loud. My client told her supervisor, and this lady got talked to several times about it. So, yes, you don’t deserve that kind of treatment when you’re on FMLA or you have a medical reason. That’s really between you and your supervisor. If you have issues like that, feel free to talk to your supervisor or HR and have them address it.

[28:10]  TS — Absolutely. Absolutely. I know that this brings up a whole lot of other stuff for people. Like how much do I tell my boss and all of that? I just want to table that because I think that fits with our next episode — when we’re talking about workplace accommodations — on how much you should or shouldn’t say and when you should say it. For those of you who are wondering, we will absolutely cover that in the next episode, when we’re talking about a little bit more about the workplace accommodations.

[28:44]  TS — Anything else we should know about the FMLA or anything? One of the questions I had, actually, while you were talking, is… Sometimes, when we go to the doctor, we find ourselves in the position of having to educate our doctors. Do you find this to be the case with FMLA or are they pretty well versed in it because it’s way more than just fibromyalgia? This could be a work injury or it could be a lot of different things. Right?

[29:15]  JH — Well, it can, it can be a lot of different things. Absolutely. 

I think that we still have to educate, because a lot of doctors do not believe in fibromyalgia, and they don’t believe that rest is something we need. We may still have to educate them. It kind of depends on your doctor. I think it also depends on your relationship with your doctor. Now, I’ve had some awesome doctors. And I’ve had some not so awesome doctors, and I’ve fired them. But, I think your relationship with your doctor is important and that will help in getting you on leave a lot easier.

[30:03]  TS — Absolutely. And, I imagine that the intermittent aspect is probably one of those areas where we really do have to talk to our doctors about how fibromyalgia affects us and our ability to work.

[30:18]  JH — Yes. And, you know, I have a doctor currently and she’s very good about that — even between FMLA or handicap stickers or anything like that. They know that we have good days and we’re going to be great. But we know we’re going to have bad days and we’ve got to use FMLA, we’ve got to use the handicap sticker, or we’ve got to use, maybe, a cane or something on our bad days. You know, if you have a good doctor and a good relationship, they’re going to understand.

[30:51]  TS — Absolutely. 

For those of you who are wondering, maybe, how to have some of those conversations with your doctors, I actually did talk a lot about this in Episode 6, The Patient’s Role in Their Own Healthcare. You can take a look at that if you’re looking for some more ideas. And, of course, talking to a coach — somebody like me or Julie —that can absolutely help as well. 

So, Julie, why don’t you tell us a little bit about how you help your clients with this.

[31:21]  JH — Okay. 

I’ve had people who still work full-time but really struggle managing their fibromyalgia. This is where we have worked together really well, looking at not only FMLA but also special work accommodations — which is our next episode — but between the two, because I want them to take the time to heal, let their body recover, and that’s time away from work. We go through things that we can do while they’re at home recovering. Then, when they’re ready to return to work, that’s where we go into the special work accommodations.

[32:03]  JH — I started with a client who was off on FMLA, and we worked together. When I first started, she could not even get out of bed. We did her sessions from her bed; she couldn’t lift her head off the pillow. I got her back to working her 30 hours a week with some accommodations and it… You know, it still gives me chills to talk about it, because I think it’s so rewarding. 

If you’ve ever used me as a coach, we have a lot of happy dances. That’s what we do when we have reached even the tiniest goal that we have set. We have a lot of happy dances. Yeah. It’s celebration time!

[32:48]  TS — Yeah. I love it. I love it! 

And, I know you’re not going to let your clients miss those deadlines either!

[32:54]  JH — No, I’m not! I’m always checking on them to make sure. Okay, have you done this? Have you done that?

[33:04]  TS — Yes. Yes.

So… Those of you, if you are wondering if this is something that you should explore… I think one of the things that so often happens with fibromyalgia is we doubt ourselves so much. We start thinking, “Well, I don’t know. Is it really that bad? Do I really need to do this?” Do you want to talk just a little bit about that? Wearing both your HR hat and your FibroCoach hat?

[33:33]  JH — Oh yes. Actually, what I have done is, I’ve devised a tool — and I encourage people to go to my website, CoachingPI.com. I do have an assessment tool on there, if you want to complete that. That comes directly to me, and I can make suggestions on what might help you work, or if I feel you need to take Family Medical Leave, or anything like that. I think it’s a great assessment tool. I think it helps you, maybe, plant some seeds in your brain to think about.

[34:13]  TS — And, hopefully, answer that question of, “I don’t know, is it really that bad? Do I really need to do this?” Having an assessment like Julie’s assessment, or even just having another person to help you think through and see it from the outside perspective. I know that’s been super valuable in my own healing. The times when I’ve had coaches or even my husband say, “I don’t think you realize that this is happening.”

[34:42]  JH — Sometimes, I think if we’re asking ourselves that, it’s got to be bad, because we’re right in the middle of it. We don’t realize it. If an objective third party can see it, you know, that’s what’s really helpful in coaching. But, if it’s to the point where we’re asking ourselves that [question], it has to be bad. Because we want to deny everything and still feel that we’re “super people,” you know. We can do it all.

[35:15]  TS — For sure. We get used to our “new normal” — even if our normal isn’t so great or so normal. Right? So, we don’t really notice, “Oh, this is… yeah… not so great.” 

And, speaking as somebody who used to be a boss — I ran the support department for a software company — I would much rather… It’s so much better to keep an employee than it is to try to find a new employee! 

Julie, you probably know the numbers for this, but it is so much more expensive to go out and hire a new employee than figure out ways that you can keep the employees that you have.

[36:04]  JH — Yes. It’s almost —I would guess, today, it’s almost two times that employee’s salary just to hire. You go through the application process, interview process, training process, all of that. It’s almost two times their salary to try to find one person.

[36:25]  TS — Right. 

So, if you are that person out there who is feeling like, “I used to be a good employee until fibromyalgia came along.” There may still be ways for you to be that employee again, through using things like the Family Medical Leave Act to take some time off, to heal, and to feel better. And, then, also what we’ll be talking about on the next episode: some of those workplace accommodations that actually make it easier for you to do your job and to do your job well again. 

Awesome.

[37:07]  TS — All right, Julie, any last minute thoughts about the FMLA before we wrap up this episode?

[37:12]  JH — I just think that if you need help, reach out to somebody. Whether it’s a coach through Tami — because we can help you not only with this but also with managing your fibromyalgia — but your HR departments should be helping you, your boss. So, just reach out and ask somebody.

[37:35]  TS — Definitely. It can be a friend. It could be your pastor. It could be a counselor. 

You know? We need to get better about asking for help, asking for the support we need, and asking for the help that we need, so that we can heal and we can feel better. 

It’s amazing, I think, what we do with fibromyalgia. If you broke your leg, you would say, “Could you bring me that? It’s tough for me to hobble around on this.” But when we have something like fibromyalgia — because we look fine — it’s harder, I think, for us to ask for that help, which is unfortunate.

[38:18]  TS — All right you guys, we’re gonna wrap up this episode. Come back for the next episode. We’re going to be diving into workplace accommodations. There is so much stuff in this, and I’m excited to have Julie talk about this because I know it’s her favorite, and I can’t wait. She has got a lot of really awesome ideas for how to make this work, and there’s probably going to be a bunch of things that you’ll learn that you had never even thought of that could be work accommodations that could make the difference between you being able to work or not. Stay tuned, and thanks for being with us on this episode. See you in a bit.

[39:08]  All right. I am so glad you guys stayed to hear all of the goodies that Julie had to share today. I just wanted to give you a quick recap of the resources she mentioned in today’s episode, and give you those links again. As a reminder, of course, this is all out on FibromyalgiaPodcast.com/14 for today’s episode, which is episode 14.

[39:32]  First off, we have the FMLA checklist, which is the checklist that walks you through all of the deadlines and the things that you need to do to apply to use the Family Medical Leave Act. If you’re interested in getting a copy of that, you can email Julie directly at JHamilton@CoachingPI.com

Julie also has her assessment to help you understand whether or not you need to request special accommodations, if you need to use the FMLA, if you need to file for disability, or what the situation is. That assessment goes directly to Julie. She actually looks at those individually and sends you an individualized response. You can get to that assessment on Julie’s website, which is CoachingPI.com.

[40:44]  Of course, if you are interested in having a consultation with Julie or working with Julie, you can either reach out to her through her website, or you can use the Find a Coach option at the Fibromyalgia Podcast website. Under the contact menu, you’ll see Find a Coach, and when you fill that out, if you’re interested in speaking directly with Julie, just write in Julie’s name and we can get you connected there.

[41:13]  Please stay tuned for our next episode that will be covering those special work accommodations and the information that Julie has in that episode is SO good. There are so many examples she’s going to be giving about different things you can do, different requests you can make, different things that you can work with your employer on, ideas you may have never even thought of or heard of, as well as discussing how to have that conversation with your boss.

[41:49]  How much do you say about your illness? How much do you say in an interview? How much do you say when you are an employee? What do you need to say to coworkers? To your boss? Do you talk to HR? How do you handle all of that? As well as those specific work accommodations? 

I hope you will come back and join us next time for Episode 15 as we talk more with Julie Hamilton about special work accommodations. 

Thanks so much, guys. See you next time!

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