Advanced search

To think that HR don't need to know the details of my sickness!!

(74 Posts)
UnGoogleable Fri 19-Feb-16 15:16:05

I'm currently waiting for surgery on my severe endometriosis and large ovarian cyst. I had surgery last year, I've had scans, I'm having a camera up the bum - the lot.

So it involves quite a few hospital appointments, as well as a few days off sick when my period is too painful or I'm bleeding too heavily. My line manager and colleagues all know what's going on and everyone has been brilliant.

But we have a new sickness recording system, which requires my manager to fill in the reason for sickness. In the past, we just filled in a form, and you could write what you wanted on there. Now, the new system has pre set categories and you have to pick one from a drop down list.

The categories cover a range of problems, so in the category which my sickness falls under, there is also stuff like 'Cystitis, Period problems, fertility problems, gynaecological etc'. But when listing past absences it abbreviates it so that only the first few ailments in the category are visible.

Consequently, my absence record looks like this:

UnGoogleable sick days:

day 1 "Cystitis...."
Day 2 "Cystitis...."
Day 3 "Cystitis...."
Day 3,4,5 "Cystitis...."
Day 6 "Cystitis...."
Day 7-28 "Cystitis..."

The problem is, this system also services our finance system, so the finance team also have access to it. As it's a new system we have had a lot of teething problems so there is a dedicated helpline with a team to help you through it - that team obviously also have full access to the system.

I told my line manager that while I'm fine for her to know what's going on, I'm not entirely comfortable with the entire HR and finance team to have full access to it, plus the way it's displayed makes it look like I have frequent days off for cystitis!

Line manager agreed, and said she would just record my sickness without a reason next to it from now on. We said that I wasn't comfortable with all the finance staff etc being able to access it and I was told that they're all bound by the same HR confidentiality rules so it's OK. But that doesn't stop me feeling uncomfortable with them all being able to see it! For example, I recently had to use the helpdesk to sort out a finance issue on the system with me. She was able to access my files and I had to sit there when she opened the above mentioned sick leave record in front of me blush

Then today, I've had an email from someone in Payroll demanding to know the reason for my recent sickness. I find this a huge invasion of privacy and was tempted to give him the full details of my upcoming extensive gynaecological surgery for good measure!

Surely if I've told my LM the reason, and she's OKd it, then why does anyone else need to know the details? And

There's a deeper issue to this - once I'm done with my surgery, I'm likely to be referred for IVF. I haven't discussed this with work yet, but it will be very private and I really don't feel comfortable with that being plastered all over our system for all to see.

Can I refuse this? Is this a breach of my right to privacy?

UnGoogleable Fri 19-Feb-16 15:20:29

I should clarify that I've had an email from someone in Payroll demanding to know the reason for my recent sickness

was from a payroll 'team member' (no idea what level they are) and was about the reason for one day of absence which I had taken to attend a hospital appointment.

I do understand that someone needs to know what's wrong, so that they can flag up any occupational health issues, or so that people can't take the piss. But I just don't want it displayed all over my record for all to see!

Mia1415 Fri 19-Feb-16 15:24:05

So sorry to hear about your health problems OP.

I think (and I am HR!) that there is a massive difference between HR knowing why you are off sick (completely OK and normal) and finance &, payroll knowing (not really OK!).

My understanding of data protection is that only people that need access to personal data should have access to it.

MaxPepsi Fri 19-Feb-16 15:30:53

Wow. Yanbu. HR maybe need a reason but can't see why payroll need to know!

I had time off for my fertility issues, only 2 people were aware. My immediate boss and the 'big boss' of the office I worked in.

Our HR department were nosy as fuck shit hot about these forms being filled in properly.

On my forms - I put n/a as per Big Bosses Name when it asked for me to put a reason for my absence and our HR department never said a word. Whether or not they had actually been told by my bosses I have no idea but considering our workplace was a hotbed of gossip and inappropriate foot in mouth moments no one ever said a word to me so I doubt it.

breezydoesit Fri 19-Feb-16 15:36:00

"Camera up my bum hole. If you need any more details, please do not hesitate to contact me. Can provide images as proof.

Yours sincerely,


YANBU OP. I hope you're ok flowers

UnGoogleable Fri 19-Feb-16 15:38:30

Oh thank you I was worried I was being unreasonable!!!

I was just a bit shocked at being told by a payroll team member that he needed to know! Hopefully my reply of 'hospital appointment' will suffice for now, but I know that that won't work in the future as it's not an option on the drop down list.

Max your situation is exactly what I'm worried about. I know my bosses will be super sensitive and discreet. And I'm sure whoever in HR who knows will also be the same. But it's the idea of 'Tracey from the helpdesk' accessing my financial details on the system and seeing that long list of very personal details that fills me with horror!

I might have to take this further with HR.

UnGoogleable Fri 19-Feb-16 15:39:51

Camera up my bum hole. If you need any more details, please do not hesitate to contact me. Can provide images as proof

Properly LOLed at that! I could offer them a DVD for the full experience? It's like watching that old 80s movie Inner Space.

PuntasticUsername Fri 19-Feb-16 15:40:22

YANBU about the Finance staff having access to your confidential personal information. Doesn't matter if they use the same system as HR, the data should be partitioned within it so people can only see data appropriate to their job roles.

Fatmomma99 Fri 19-Feb-16 15:40:55

poor you! Sounds very nosy to me. flowers

I would suggest replying "Line Manager is aware of details" and cc'ing Line Manager in.

UnGoogleable Fri 19-Feb-16 15:42:26

I have sent it to my line manager.

Trouble is, this will happen every time if she keeps recording it without full details - which due to the dropdown list issue makes it look like I have had a year long raging case of cystitis!!!!!

Pseudonym99 Fri 19-Feb-16 15:43:09

Just because the finance team are bound by the same confidentiality rules does not mean they need to know what is wrong with you. What your employer is doing is illegal under the Data Protection Act. Report them.

OOAOML Fri 19-Feb-16 15:44:49

That sounds really dodgy from a data protection angle - Finance should not have access to your sickness records, and HR should not need to know the reason if you choose not to, manager authorisation should cover it. I don't know how your system works, but where I am all absences like that would be signed off by a manager before going to payroll, and there's an option not to classify it (whether or not you've discussed the reason with your manager).

UnGoogleable Fri 19-Feb-16 15:46:06

What your employer is doing is illegal under the Data Protection Act. Report them.

I'd be interested to learn more about this. Can anyone give me some links?

I'm happy to take this further with my employer. They have form for shitty behaviour.

DisappointedOne Fri 19-Feb-16 15:46:21

With my HR hat on the access to information is definitely a problem.

However, why are you taking sick leave for (presumably) pre-arranged hospital appointments?

HermioneWeasley Fri 19-Feb-16 15:47:58

Agree, the system should be set up so that only certain users can see absence records, and within that, a subset can see reasons. This is sensitive personal data under the data protection act and your company are being very cavalier.

coughingbean Fri 19-Feb-16 15:48:49

Is your new system IBC? We have just moved to that and I hate it!

EBearhug Fri 19-Feb-16 15:49:48

I would talk to HR. Finance and payroll do nor need to know. If they can't separate the data, they need new DBAs/application support. This shouldn't be technically difficult, and if it is, they have a very badly designed system.

FarinaHuevos Fri 19-Feb-16 15:50:15

YANBU at all! in my workplace we'd consider the finance team being able to view those details as a breach of DPA.

FarinaHuevos Fri 19-Feb-16 15:51:08

You may find some help here :

UnGoogleable Fri 19-Feb-16 15:53:43

Disappointed you're absolutely right, thank you for jogging my memory. I had already arranged approval for time off for the hospital appointment, but ended up off sick the day before because of my endo pain.

I've now sent another email to the Payroll guy saying that I was mistaken, and that the reason for my absence was related to my hospital appointment on the subsequent day, and that my LM was aware and approved the absence.

But I didn't give him any detail. If he wants detail, he's going to have to ask me for it. Then I'll complain.

MackerelOfFact Fri 19-Feb-16 15:55:30

Oh god OP, that's horrible, that's not on at all.

To be honest, I'm not entirely sure on what grounds it's acceptable for them to ask you for specific details relating to your medical record anyway. Even actual, registered professional healthcare workers aren't allowed to just randomly access your personal data.

Obviously if the workplace needs to make adjustments according to your illness they need to know the parts that are relevant to that, but aside from that I can't imagine a single reason why an employer - even in HR - needs to know this!

UnGoogleable Fri 19-Feb-16 15:56:15

No it's not IBC coughing but it's utterly shit. They couldn't have designed a system less user friendly and intuitive to use.

The system is new, and knowing my organisation probably cost a fortune. Would it surprise you all if I told you I worked for local government?

Thank you for the links, I'll be doing some reading up over the weekend...

UnGoogleable Fri 19-Feb-16 15:59:18

Obviously if the workplace needs to make adjustments according to your illness they need to know the parts that are relevant to that, but aside from that I can't imagine a single reason why an employer - even in HR - needs to know this!

When I first queried it, I was told that they needed to know so as to identify any patterns (which I guess is code for 'people who frequently go off with a cold are probably swinging the lead') or to identify any issues that they could help with (I'm guessing like workplace stress or something).

However, when it's something that is not related to my work, and my LM is fully aware, and I'm under appropriate care, and I have a workplace assessment to flag up any adjustments needed to suit my needs.. then no, I can't see any good reason why they need to know either.

UnGoogleable Fri 19-Feb-16 16:00:21

What really bothered me was when reviewing the lists of illnesses, there was one category which started with "Metal health".

Imagine having that plastered all over your record for all of the accounts team to see....

FinnMcCool Fri 19-Feb-16 16:03:15

Allowing staff outside of HR to be able to access that data is a breach of DPA. Technical controls should be implemented to prevent that happening.

In addition, your medical information is sensitive personal data, and as such requires more protection than mere personal data.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now