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What do folks tell their Employer about your condition?

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#1 Johnc


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Posted 02 June 2012 - 03:54 AM

I have been advised by a Director of HR of a Major Fortune 500 company that  you should tell your employer you have an illness and you will have Doctor appt. (But you don't have to disclose any more than that)but your illness will not interfere with your work.. He said in cases where selective layoffs occur that the Attorneys advise HR of staying away from laying off folks with Medical conditions. However, I have read here where folks may have told their employer everything, but I am sure there are more details maybe with performance or such,  have been laid off shortly after they let their employer know. Not sure if this is happening or if it is because of health insurance premiums skyrocketing or their fear the employee eventually will become sick and not productive.

What have folks on this board advised their employer and what has their experience?


#2 lymphomajourney


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Posted 02 June 2012 - 05:35 AM

I think in the case of serious illness, where one will need to be away from work for a significant period of time or when one's performance will be affected, I think being more upfront is better than not, as part of maintaining and strengthening trust between the employer and the employee. In my case, Canadian govt employee, we have a supportive culture and good benefits plan (the two usually go hand in hand) and so I was completely upfront about what I had, the expected length of my absence (9 months) and the return to work process. I expect this may be easier with large organizations with the appropriate policies in place than with some smaller organizations, but I may be wrong on this.


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#3 pammartin


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Posted 02 June 2012 - 08:05 AM

Hi Johnc,

I have been thinking about this and I would believe it depends on your job, the relationship you have with your employer and supervisors, and more importantly how much information you are comfortable disclosing.  When searching for a job, or maintaining one there are no regulations stating you have to share your medical diagnosis with anyone at your work place.  I worked in HR for a long time and it was always an unspoken process when looking for lay offs to choose the people who were less productive or had issues that might keep them from work.  This process is a form of discrimination so companies are very careful how they handle situations.  The problem with employment today is the 'at will' clause that is in almost every business, corporation, and small establishment.  The clause provides the company opportunities to lay off at any time for any reason, hence the 'at will' employee.  This clause has released possible discrimination issues with health and/or performance because of health.  It also removes the security of longevity, established employees are no longer secure new hires will be the first to receive lay off notices. 

Insurance premiums are at an all time high, and every company has a rating, this rating depends on number of employees, age of employees, current employee health, and what diagnosis' each person has.  Insurance companies will provide a positive quote when business' shop for health benefits for employees, but the final number is almost always higher after the research is completed by the prospective insurance company; the business pays more and the employee contribution can be higher.  One note, if your company is changing insurances or updating, every employee completes a form and you list any preexisting health conditions and medications, this form goes to HR and then is forward to the insurance company for review, so the decision may be taken out of your hands at some point. 

Everyone has doctor, dentist, and eye appointments so you are not alone when scheduling appointments during the work day, businesses usually practice some leeway for these absences.  If your diagnosis is not affecting your attendance or performance I believe you do not have to disclose anything, unless you feel comfortable doing so.  Just keep in the back of your mind at some point you may have to share your information if you have to request an extended leave as Andrew mentioned.  I guess I am a bit different, I do not share my diagnosis with many, there are people I speak with often who do not know, and as I continue my job search I do not share my CML diagnosis, to me it would be an unspoken rejection, just because of the possibilities and future performance. 

What is your gut feeling about your job, position, work relationship, and how your company would receive the information.  I am convinced this is an individual choice, and each person will be looking at different angles.  After all the 'stuff' I typed, the one bit of advice I believe is the highest on the list of importance is to not do anything for a time, until you have thought about it.  Take all information into consideration but no one should sway your decision from a high ranking HR person, friends, family, or on this site; you know your situation better than any of us.  This may sound ominous and that is not my intent, but once you share your condition there is no turning back, until then you have a semblemce of anonymity.  My best wishes to you and whatever decision you choose.


#4 NotJack?


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Posted 02 June 2012 - 09:00 AM

For you all who are from other countries that the US,  this will not apply, as you as a society have decided that health care is something that all people in a community should enjoy.  But here in the US, it has been lobbied that the government only cares for the high risk community members, and allows the insurance companies to profit from only including the low risk patients in their risk pool, and when they become high risk, they are denied coverage.  This is done by making employers bear a cost of the insurance, thereby taking some of the responsibility away from the insurance carriers themselves for the denial of benefits.  When you are putting in more than your cost to the insurance company, you are kept, when you become a cost issue, you are dropped.  By including the employer in the insurance process, you eliminate the higher risk (and cost) employees as their production lags.  Then the government takes over (unless Ron Paul has it his way) and keeps care going for you or your neighbor.  An example of this, I deal with every day.  My partner in coaching youth hockey, a division 2 standout and mechanical engineer,  was diagnosed with ALS in 2010.  As his affliction progressed, his HR department became more interested in him, and contacted him more than they had in 15 years.  He attributed this to a compassionate interest in his well being.  They encouraged him to only work as much as he was comfortable, and that they wanted him to stay with them as long as he could.  He appreciated the community support from a company that he had worked for for years.  Then, a friend in the company who was a part of the company meetings,  cautioned him that he should look at the terms of his disability insurance independently from his "caring" contact in HR.  He did, and found that if he did as the HR staff had suggested, his monthly disability support for his terminal desease would drop as a consequence of his lessening monthly hours.  As a result he had to quit working right away in order to raise his 7 children, instead of staying with the company and descending into abject poverty.   Our government has to go to universal healthcare, my choice would be national health insurance,   to gain the benefits of the whole spectrum of risk, to get our employers out of the healthcare system, to reduce administrative costs over 30%,  and to bring our costs down from double the cost compared to the Netherlands, France, etc. (who both blow away the US in terms of quality of care).  ( and the only way to get this done is to take the lobbyists out of our capitol!!  Get the payoffs out of the hands of both sides of congress, as they share responsibility in this!)  Have the voters decide our nations course, not the lobbyists (foreign and domestic).


#5 hannibellemo


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Posted 02 June 2012 - 09:10 AM


I have another perspective on this. I did reveal to my boss what was going on with me at the time of my dx. For one thing, an absence of three days automatically kicks FMLA into gear at the municipality where I work. I just thought it was the right thing to do. If other people are anything like me, than reality is always so much better than what imagine can dream up.

We are self insured and and absorb costs per employee of up to $100,000 per year and then special catastrophic insurance (for the City) kicks in. I'm friends with the finance director and we were talking how the City had had to pay out over $800,000 this year and I mentioned that I had to be one of them and he said, " You aren't even close". That took me back for two reasons, 1. that he even knew the names of the people who have serious illnesses, and 2. there were people who cost the company more than I did in terms of insurance. So don't assume because of the CML that we are the only ones responsible for cost increases, etc.

He did say that the quote from the insurance company that provides the catastrophic insurance went up $60,000 this year. We meet with our insurance administrator next week to learn about insurance changes this year. Can't wait. NOT! 




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#6 Happycat


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Posted 02 June 2012 - 09:12 AM


I agree with Pam, varies for everyone. I told my employer right away, as initially they thought I had a different type of leukemia and I was in a serious crisis. The good benefit of telling was that I appreciated all the prayers and kind thoughts on my behalf. I do believe they helped.

I wanted my employer to know, because they wanted me to take a greater leadership position (accelerated development), and I really wasn't interested, too stressful. I couldn't come right out and say it, so I used my "get out of jail free" leukemia card.

It also allowed me to have a frank discussion with HR on my rights and benefits. The take home message was that if I go out on LT disability, I have only 6 months. If I can't come back to work after that, they can terminate me. That was a change from how it used to be, and in fact changed from one person, who was in a high position and had some health problem. They had to keep him on for 2 yrs, until he could return, and the guy frankly was not the performer they thought he was.

It was freeing to know they would show me no loyalty after 6 mo LTD. I remind myself of that when I am tempted to work at nights and on weekends.  I spend time with my family instead. Helps keep things in perspective.

I don't feel my job is in jeopardy, since I am one of their high performers at my site. They would like me to do more, but have said they don't want it to negatively affect my health. So the choice is kinda up to me. If I signal I'd like to take on more, they'll pile it on.



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