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Should I disclose my health issues at work?

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Question - (5 September 2022) 3 Answers - (Newest, 10 September 2022)
A female age 41-50, anonymous writes:

Hi guys,

I've written here recently about my husband's anger concerning the lack of help and my cancer diagnosis.

This time I need advice on another subject.

I don't know what the rules are. Should I disclose my health issues at work? And I'm not talkig about chit-chatting with colleagues. I'm talking about my superiors.

E.g. in two weeks I will have an IRM and my doctor will put me on a sick leave for a day. The trouble is, I don't work every day, like in an office, so when I'm not there my absence is visible. I never take sick days. So this is something that will be noticed.

Everybody's nice at work and poeple tend to care about one another. I just feel that me utering the C word will be like a bomb and will change things.

I thought about offering to do some work "from home" and prepare some material they could use without me in advance.

But if someone asks, I'd rather stay vague with my peers. Should I do the same with my boss?

In the upcomming months, I will have to go to a hospital for a couple of days (who am kidding, this will happen more than once). I am going to need to ask my supperiors to reorganize my hours. I can still do everything, but not at the hours that were defined a few months ago.

I don't want my superiros to think that I'm spoilt or difficult.

Also, I just don't know how would tehy react to my diagnosis.

Thank you!!!!!

View related questions: at work, my boss

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (10 September 2022):

I'm so sorry you have this illness and wish you a speedy recovery. You don't say which country you are in, but in some places, it might be better to tell your employer as this may afford you additional time off and protections. So I suggest you speak with your doctor and with a legal professional or organisation like citizens advice if you are in the UK and perhaps a cancer charity. They will be able to advise you better. Anyway, do prioritise your health and wellbeing at this time. Wishing you the best

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (8 September 2022):

Thank you so much WiseOwlE!

I am not comfortable discussing any details of my private life at work. As I don't need medical leave, yet, just a reorganization of my hours, I think I'll be able to avoid any real disruption in work.

Today, I managed to get my day, just by politely asking, without explaining.

I'll talk to my doctor, because as far as I know, they are legally obliged NOT to disclose anyhing. Documents for a sickleave are non-specific.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (7 September 2022):

I believe your medical-issues are highly confidential. As long as you can safely and competently perform your job; you do not have to disclose details of your medical-problems. There are some exceptions to be considered.

If you know you could be a danger to yourself, or your co-workers; you should have a confidential conversation with your Human Resources department. If you know that you will miss a lot of work, due to treatments and recovery; you should have your doctor prepare a note which will explain without disclosure of particular details, which will protect you from undue or premature termination. You don't need to casually discuss your illness with co-workers who are not close-friends. Some people need sympathy and attention; and they feel the need to seek pity. If that's not your personality, just keep it too yourself; and if there are obvious signs of treatment that draw attention, explain it off as a side-effect to medication. People are nosey, and casual curiosity doesn't warrant full-disclosure of your private affairs.

Your doctor knows how to explain things in a way that will legally protect your privacy and prevent unjust termination. It should be on the record there is a note from your doctor; but diagnosis, or any prognosis of your illness, is strictly between you and your doctors. TMI is what gets people fired or gossip being passed around that may humiliate you or get around to people you'd rather not know. Obviously, you can't hide hospitalization or surgery. Routinely, we notify our employers of such matters. They have a right to know anytime you will have extended stays from work.

Pick and choose, but let your doctor(s) do all the talking. You won't be the first or last medical situation your employer has had to deal with. They will make the appropriate accommodations; and if you know that there will be frequent absences; you should apply for a medical-leave of absence, rather than constantly calling-in sick.

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