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Staff member's condition means her responsibilities need to be adjusted, but she does not want senior management to know why

(9 Posts)
WobblyLondoner Sun 16-Feb-20 19:49:12

Grateful for advice on this. As the title says, someone in a team I manage has a long term health condition that has flared up, and we need to reduce her workload to compensate. The issue is that she really does not want my line manager (who is effectively the head of the organisation) to know why and, though I understand her reluctance, I will need to give an explanation for changes that will otherwise seem odd.

I'll obviously talk with HR before doing anything but very interested in others' take on the limits to an employee's right to keep a medical condition confidential.

OP’s posts: |
ICouldHaveBeenAContender Sun 16-Feb-20 19:55:44

What do your procedures say about making adjustments for medical reasons? I would expect such adjustments to be on the basis of a recommendation from OH, so you;d have to refer her to OH first.

I'd be thinking that, as I'm not medically qualified, I would be seeking professional advice on how to respond to her request.

leghairdontcare Sun 16-Feb-20 20:20:21

I don't think it's reasonable to expect that it's not discussed up the reporting line. Obviously it should be confidential outside of this.

DottyWott Sun 16-Feb-20 20:22:22

Is it acceptable to her for you to share that adjustments have to made because of a long term condition without disclosing what the condition is? I think that would be reasonable.

nachthexe Sun 16-Feb-20 20:26:31

We have an accessibility department (part of HR). They are the only ones who know reasons behind accommodations. Everyone else is just told an accommodation is required. The end. No one else is entitled to know why.

Isleepinahedgefund Sun 16-Feb-20 21:24:52

We also have a system whereby adjustments are dealt with by a separate department and they can simply say the adjustment is needed and not elaborate as to why. So I as a line manager would know I needed to make an adjustment, I would know by default that there is a medical condition, I wouldn’t know what the condition is.

In practice (and from my experience) I think it works better if relevant people do know some of the ins and outs of it all, why the adjustment is needed etc.

Wha exactly does she not want your LM to know? Is was it that there is a medical condition at all, or what the condition is? I think your LM at least has to know there is a reasonable adjustment in place even if not told the details of the condition.

WobblyLondoner Sun 16-Feb-20 21:25:34

Thanks all. Will see what guidance is from HR - I'd assumed the minimum would be me being able say there was a health condition that necessitated the change without saying what it was.

OP’s posts: |
WobblyLondoner Sun 16-Feb-20 21:27:26

@Isleepinahedgefund
Missed your post before I replied - I think the issue is the specific condition.

OP’s posts: |
ChicCroissant Sun 16-Feb-20 21:35:20

I've known an employee keep their details confidential during a long period of sick leave. They had been referred to Occupational Health (who did have the details of the condition) but it was not passed on to the employer, so we used to get regular reports from OH saying they were still unfit for work.

This case is different because the employee is in work, which makes the likelihood of nosy colleagues/bosses asking questions directly. Also, I suspect I know the condition and it may be noticable to colleagues already which can also mean gossip, unfortunately.

Has your colleague been referred to OH or has the request come directly from the employee themselves? I think you may have to be fairly firm that adjustments are necessary but the reason why is not up for discussion at all.

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