Offering an extra three to 30 days of paid leave to employees who donate bone marrow or organs could improve your organization’s reputation as a company that cares about its community.
Less than half of 1% of those who register as potential donors will ever be called to give, so the benefit will cost your organization very little.
About 11,000 companies have answered a call from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to encourage employees to register as potential bone marrow and organ donors.
Some have followed the lead of the federal government, which allows agencies to grant up to seven days of unearned personal leave each year to anyone who donates bone marrow, and an extra 30 days to organ donors.
- Since 2002, The Home Depot has encouraged workers to join the national registry that matches volunteer donors with patients suffering from leukemia, blood disorders and genetic diseases. Each volunteer gives a blood sample for testing and will be called if the tissue matches a patient.
- The U.S. Postal Service started a nationwide campaign in 1997 that has enrolled 42,000 employees in the registry. So far, 75 workers have donated marrow.
- Each employee-donor in the University System of Georgia gets the HHS-recommended paid time off. The state doesn’t deduct leave from an employee’s available sick time—and does include it as service in computing retirement benefits.
Before your organization starts its own campaign, consider these three points:
- Employees who join the registry must be readily available to donate. Once they’re matched, they could have as little as a week or as long as two months to make the donation, depending on how urgent the case is.
- A bone marrow donor will need three to seven days to recover. Most organizations allow seven days off.
- If you want to encourage employees to register, consider paying for “tissue typing”—which involves a simple mouth swab and costs about $50 per donor.
Employers do not cover a donor’s medical expenses. Rather, the transplant recipient’s insurance pays for the procedure for both patient and donor. If an employee has a donor-related medical complication, the National Marrow Donor Program will cover those expenses.
Advice: Check your state’s law before writing your organization’s policy on paid leave for donors. Some states require employers to offer it.