Dealing with a sick loved one is never easy, but when you’re worried about losing your job due to taking time off, things can look even bleaker.
Andreas Graff, an assembly worker at a design company in Hesse, Germany, learned this lesson firsthand when his three-year-old son Julius was diagnosed with leukemia. This news is obviously a crushing blow for any family, but as an hourly factory worker, Andreas feared his job would not be willing to grant him the amount of time he was going to need to be with his son as the boy underwent grueling cancer treatments. He immediately requested all of his vacation time at once.
“I first took my entire vacation, because we did not know what to expect, then I thought: Holiday is gone at some point, and then you will eventually terminate or be terminated,” the distraught father said.
However, when Andreas ran out of holiday pay, instead of firing the man, his employer did something incredible.
HR Manager Pia Meier called in a few favors with the union and the company’s higher-ups, asking them to allow an overtime fundraiser for the struggling family. When they agreed, she put out a sign-up sheet so that coworkers could donate hours to cover for Andreas while he took care of business at home.
Within two weeks, the sign-up sheet was covered in signatures. Over 700 of Andreas’ fellow employees had responded to the request and volunteered their time to help their colleague out. All in all, they donated 3,300 hours of overtime.
“Without this great support, I would be unemployed,” Andreas stated. Pia agreed, observing that “the reaction of our employees was incredible. There is no one who has not donated.”
Andreas took almost an entire year off, and his son is now looking forward to turning five in February. Andreas plans a gradual return to work, stating that Julius is now quite energetic and hopes to join a local kindergarten in the fall.
What a lovely reminder that there is no “them” and “us,” we’re all in this life together. Share this story to inspire everyone to treat your coworkers like family!