If you have a family emergency (i.e. someone in your family is terminally ill), is it good to tell your boss so that things like working at home or telecommuting are options? I am not eligible for FMLA because I have not worked for the company for 1 year.

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    You should always be honest with your supervisor if you have a situation that might effect your ability to come in. Of course your legal rights are also extremely limited if you are not actually eligible for FMLA due to the length of time you have been there. – Donald Apr 25 '15 at 21:29
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    More detail here would be really helpful - is this going to affect your work? Will it require absence? Do you have vacation to cover absences? Presumably you are in USA? – enderland Apr 25 '15 at 21:34
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    The situations you describe aren't really "emergencies" in the majority of cases. "Emergency" implies "something unexpected just happened and I have to go take care of it immediately." – alroc Apr 26 '15 at 2:34
  • If you have a family situation, how would telecommuting help you? Is telecommuting the only option that would allow you to meet both your goals (1. caring for your family member, 2. doing your job). Obviously you need to care for your family, but when you discuss this with your manager you need to demonstrate that you're intending to give as much as possible to your job responsibilities despite your family situation. Only in this way can you find a good way to take care of both. – Brandin Apr 26 '15 at 9:39
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because the question as phrased is hypothetical and the OP has made no effort to edit it. – Vietnhi Phuvan Apr 26 '15 at 11:59

This isn't a family emergency. A family emergency is "someone in my family has been arrested or been in a car accident or had a heart attack." They are in danger/trouble NOW and I need to drop everything and help them or at least go to them.

Your hypothetical dying relative is more of a family difficulty or an ongoing personal situation. You should tell your employer if (and only if)

  • you want some accommodation such as being allowed to take time off (paid or not) when it would normally be denied, or being allowed to work odd hours or to telecommute
  • you want to explain reduced productivity, more personal phone calls, or just being less cheerful around the office (related: Do I need to act happy all the time even if I'm not really?

You don't need to go into more detail than you like. Generally if you say it out loud without euphemisms (for example, "my father is dying") people will not press you for details - in many cases they will be actively trying not to discuss it.

If you feel it's not affecting your work situation at all then keep it private. But my experience is, it will affect your work situation, and there's something to be said for having discussed that before it happens.


If you have a family emergency (i.e. someone in your family is terminally ill), is it good to tell your boss so that things like working at home or telecommuting are options?

Having a terminally ill family member is an unfortunate situation. I am sorry for you.

But that isn't an emergency. It's a situation you will need to find a way to deal with now.

If you don't tell your boss, what will you do? Just decide to work from home and not show up? It's unlikely that would go over well.

Talk with your boss now. Explain your situation as it really is. Ask if there is any flexibility available for you to deal with it.

In some shops, they will be able to be flexible. In other shops they will not and you may need to find a different job. But that's something you need to know in order to help your family.


Tell your boss and ask if there's anything that can be done to handle the situation. Depending on company policy and business pressures and a bunch of less well defined concerns , you may get the kind of accommodations you want, or may only be able to get unpaid time off, or might not even get that --- but the only way to find out what they can or will do for you is to ask.


They may or may not be work options for you, but you will need to let your boss know of your situation and then discuss it with him to see if he can work with you on where you do your job from (ex. office or home). He may want to let you work from home or telecommute, but may not be able to, and then you will need to decide between continuing work in your current capacity, or leaving your current job so that you can handle your family emergency, and then looking for new employment. Because even if your boss wants to let you work from home or telecommute, but the reality is that there is still a position that will need to be done, and it may not be viable to have the work done remotely from home on a telecommuting basis. This having been said, if you absolutely have to be off even if it means you will lose your job, then you have to do what you have to do. Good luck to you!

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