Dear Cubicle Coach: I'm about to take a leave of absence for a medical procedure, and I don't want a coworker who's been eyeing my job to steal my spot. How do I make sure my boss remembers me while I'm gone for a few months?

Dear Out of the Office: Pro sports teams have an unspoken code that you can never lose your spot in the lineup due to injury, just by playing badly. If only it worked that way at the office. I have seen bosses who just can't let that returning maternity-leaver back into the inner circle, or who flat-out avoid the employee coming back from chemo. Cruel, yes, but for many bosses it's out of sight, out of mind. Federal law gives you certain safeguards during a medical leave, and depending on the size of the company, your length of service, and the state you live in, you may have even more. But that's not to say the boss won't still make it hard for you. All you can do is check in with the office regularly, have a speedy recovery, and pray that those covering for you show mind-boggling incompetence in your absence.

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