When would you inform your employer of a chronic illness?
The illness might not affect your attendance at work, but it would affect the quality of your work. Conversely, it might affect your attendance, but not the quality of your work.
Do you try to tough it out as long as possible, and hope no one notices? Do you confess, and see if you can get support? Does your decision on when to inform affect your long term disability benefits in any way?
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When I was hired in my final "real office job" they knew I was also trying to have a baby. Since nothing comes easily for me, pregnancy was a difficult thing. Once I hit the three-month mark, I told my employer. I know, this is a "short term" thing, but there is a point to all of this. My pregnancy went bad, fast. I wound up working from home and also going on short term, that went into long term disability -due to complicating issues. I was glad I did it the way I did because I needed to use up sick time and vacation time before I could get paid for my short term and subsequently long term disability. It helped my employer know what was going on, because he knew to keep a temp waiting in the wings. As an employee, I think you owe it to your employer to keep them informed and to help them prepare in the event of a necessary long absence.
After I went back to work, I had to hire an assistant. Nice enough person, very competent, but she was out, A LOT! It was hard dealing with that, at times and finally, I needed to have a conversation with her about her large amount of days out. After about 15 minutes, she finally told me that she had lupus and was in an active cycle. It all made sense after she told me. Some days she was just slower and seemed so fatigued, other days she was quick and never had to be reminded of a thing! She was a good worker, but the days when she was so fatigued, it was frustrating. After she told me, though, it made sense and we worked out a plan. She was able to work from home on some of her work on the days when she was struggling too much to be able to come in. The other days, she ran circles around me.
Because of our company's policy, I did have to put something in her file about her large amount of absences, but after she told me, we never had another issue - we worked together. I wish she would have told me to begin with, because I could have avoided having to discuss her attendance.
It's against the law for an employer to discriminate. I know that even though it is, they can find ways around the law; however, I (as an employee) would still lean more to the side of disclosing an illness or condition to my employer. I can look back and see how it helped my employer to know what was going on with me and it would have saved some stress in dealing with my assistant.
As far as affecting your long term disability through an employer, no it shouldn't. You need to understand the policy: do you need to use up all your sick time, personal time and vacation time? do you need to go without pay for any length of time? how do you document your absence? can you appeal if denied by your physician or the insurance company?
Keeping your employer informed should help a situation; however, if you feel that you are being discriminated against, in any way, you need to see your HR Department about your concerns. If it isn't resolved, you should seek outside help.
- Anonymous9 years ago
Since I do have chronic issues (I'm narcoleptic, and have learning disabilities, etc.) this is something I have thought of. I wouldn't bring it up at the interview unless I was just doing amazingly well and didn't think it would affect my performance or my attendance. Then I would bring it up. I would my tell my employer likely early on in my employment or soon after I became ill or diagnosed. But I don't think confess is the right term. I would say, "Listen, I want you to know that I have X. X is a chronic illness, and I have had it for... Right now I am doing really well and I don't anticipate any problems, but every once in a while it flairs up and if that happens I will need some small accommodations while that is happening. That might include something such as... Do you have any questions or concerns about my work or ability to perform my job?" If I wasn't doing so well I might mention that I was having some trouble with a chronic illness, and that this normally did not impact my job performance, but since its flaring up right now I need some support in the form of... (fill in the blank}. Generally I think it is better to mention these things before a problem occurs because then if something does happen employers don't feel upset that they were never told. Ideally it will be a long time or never before something does happen, and then when it does the employer will appreciate your hard work and be more supportive. Since we do not live in an ideal world, however, there are times when it is best to not disclose that information. Maybe your employer is the sort of person who doesn't "believe in" chronic illnesses. Or you reasonably anticipate problems telling your employer based on problems with this individual in the past. Creating a conflict is never a good idea over something like this if it isn't necessary. If you need guidance you can check things such as the American with Disabilities Act, various workers associations, and support groups for people who live and work with your particular illness.
I was quite fortunate. I was employed by an employee owned company when I discovered I had multiple sclerosis. My employer has worked very hard over the last hundred years to treat their employees well. I knew that I would not be discharged if I informed them, so I told my supervisor as soon as I was diagnosed. He told his boss, and they both brought me into the branch managers office the next day for a discussion of my future with the company. The first question I was asked was what impact this diagnosis would have on my work quality and/or quantity. The next question was what could they do to help me. I was flabbergasted. My previous employer would have found an excuse to get rid of me. In fact, my previous employer had gotten rid of a person for the flimsiest of reasons when they discovered she had a heart condition.
By the time of my diagnosis I had been experiencing some mobility problems. I was finding it difficult to walk distances of more than fifty feet or so, and my gait was affected. It was obvious to all that I had some sort of problem. That meant that my informing my employer was more in the way of an explanation of the problem than anything else.
My situation was fairly unique. Many people, upon learning they are diagnosed with a serious medical condition, have found it advisable not to disclose their condition until absolutely necessary, due to performance or attendance issues. Discrimination in the workplace is a common problem and as a general rule most people in the situation you describe tend to "tough it out" until the condition makes disclosure necessary.
If you might find it necessary to look into the disclosure situation a little more closely, you might want to go here http://nationalmssociety.org/living-with-multiple-... and go to the bottom of the page. There you will find a five page pdf titled Disclosure In the Workplace. It discusses disclosure in detail. It also discusses the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which provides legal protection in many workplace situations. ADA is not a one size fits all remedy for all workplace situations, but it can be used as a bargaining chip in discussions on workplace accomodations.
I have heard that many employers, especially image sensitive employers, have become more accomodating in the last few years. If there is a question about disability benefits, it may be possible to contact a human resources department anonymously and determine what early disclosure might result in. Sorry about the bad grammar, but I hope you get my drift.
There are also many non profit organizations that provide free or low cost counseling for people who find themselves in a postion such as the one you describe. Sorry to ramble on so, but this subject is fairly important to me, for obvious reasons.
- Anonymous9 years ago
This could hurt a person legally and physically, if they aren't up front ASAP.
They can deny them Workman's Comp, if later on down the road they find out by them or other sources or circumstances about the illness.
If they are hurt doing their job, or they are stressed out by their illness, and can not perform their job correctly, the job can not act in the manner they usually would, because of the person's extenuating circumstances, if they knew up front about the chronic illness.
It is very easy to be so stressed out because of many things especially sickness. Stress also is a sickness and can make one's chronic illness worse. A lot of chronic illnesses are made worse by stress.
I don't know how to add widgets to my answer but one such disease is crohn's disease. A Crohn's disease flare up can be brought on by stress as can other chronic illnesses.
I was a shop steward on my job for 20 years and I have sat in on some sad cases of chronic illnesses. I will espeicially keep people with chronic illnesses in my prayers.
The person can also apply for and receive FMLA which is Family Medical Leave Act, which can be used and the person will not be penalized when late or taking off due to the illness. Again I wish I knew how to add the widgets.
My decision on when to inform would have nothing to do with me informing. One's health and being able to take care of it is very important!!
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- MuttLv 79 years ago
If it will affect your attendance or quality of work, the sooner the better.
- HDLv 79 years ago
i've always found honesty works best.