Understand your rights
The Family and Medical Leave Act guarantees employees 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a sick family member. In most states, that's unpaid leave. However, California, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey have passed various forms of paid leave Opens in new window, up to a weekly wage cap. Companies with less than 50 employees aren't required to offer paid or unpaid leave.
Whether or not your employer offers family medical leave, federal law prevents companies from firing you for taking care of a sick family member. Visit the National Conference of State Legislatures Opens in new window for a list of family and sick leave laws by state.
Don't quit your job unless it's absolutely necessary.
Before you give two-weeks' notice, consider the long-term impact of leaving Opens in new window. Not only will you lose your salary, you'll lose 401(k) contributions, profit sharing and health benefits.
Rashelle Brooks of Greensboro, North Carolina, put her plans to start a food truck business, Mac & Cheese Ministry, on hold when her son, Joshua, was diagnosed with leukemia. To give her son the round-the-clock care he needed, Brooks had to quit her job. (Learn more about Brooks’ story on Prudential’s Everyday Bravery podcast Opens in new window.)
Recently divorced, Brooks moved herself and her daughter, Alanna, into a home for cancer patients near her Joshua's hospital. She lived on savings, food stamps and a little bit of nonprofit funding. Because she was a single mom raising two young children, one of which had ongoing medical treatments, including a bone marrow transplant, Brooks saw no other way.
Brooks and others in crisis situations give up more than a paycheck. A National Alliance for Caregiving Report included a profile of a 56-year-old woman who left a $70,000 per year job to care for her mother for three years. She lost $350,000 total in salary, social security, retirement and other benefits.
Before you quit, ask yourself: can you really afford to leave?