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Work: Preparing For Disability -- Short Term

When It Is Time To Leave Work, Who At Your Employer's Should You Tell?

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Not your supervisor -- unless there's a reason

We do not recommend telling your immediate supervisor. Too often the supervisor will not know your legal rights. The odds are your supervisor won't know what she may or may not ask about the reasons for the request for a leave. Hard feelings can result unnecessarily if you don't answer some of her questions. She also may not know about the requirements to keep your health information confidential. It's a short jump from your supervisor to your co-workers.

If you feel it's necessary to tell your supervisor because of your relationship or for other reasons, remind her that the information is confidential. To not alienate the person, you can start your sentence with words like: "I know you're already aware that this information has to be kept confidential because of the law. ……"

Do tell Human Resources

We recommend that you go to your Human Resources Department and inform the highest level person with whom you're comfortable speaking. We recommend you at least approach a supervisor or manager in HR, not a personnel clerk because:

  • A person in management probably knows the laws and your rights better than a person lower in the department, and will be more likely to respect them.
  • HR managers have probably had experience with other people going through the same process.
  • Although they may learn your diagnosis, HR managers don't have to, and probably won't, pass that part of the information back to your immediate supervisor and others who need to know about your leave but don't need to know why.

If your employer doesn't have a Human Resources Department

If your employer doesn't have a Human Resources person, speak with the highest level person with whom you are comfortable, such as the President or owner. Since this person may not know about your rights, it can't hurt for you to review your rights before meeting. Perhaps even have some literature with you that would educate your employer on your rights.

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