Employee Privacy When Your Employee Needs Help

Human resources is all about employee privacy. We keep information on salaries, performance appraisals, health insurance applications and disciplinary actions. We don’t gossip, and we only share when it’s necessary. We tell employees repeatedly that we’re not counselors, priests or lawyers, so please don’t tell us about your marriage, your sins or your legal issues. But what if we know someone needs help in that area? Then what?

Let’s say Jane has taken multiple sick days in the past month. Do you reach out to her and ask what’s up, when it’s none of your business? But what if her problem is migraines, a condition which can be covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)? Or what if she was hospitalized overnight, which can trigger FMLA eligibility? You’d be doing Jane a favor by talking to her.

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3 thoughts on “Employee Privacy When Your Employee Needs Help

  1. By all means, be sure to comply with the legal requirements under FMLA and the ADA, etc. FMLA regulations require employers to formally notify employees of their FMLA rights as soon as it appears that a situation might be covered under the Act. Likewise, the ADA — or the Rehab Act for Federal Government employees — requires employers to engage in an interactive process to determine the need, if any, for workplace accommodations, any time it appears that an employee might be an individual with a disability requiring accommodation.

  2. It doesn’t necessarily need a one on one meeting to put this information out when HR can send a notification out company wide making sure each individual person gets the information. As far as a personal approach to the individual, the only thing that can be addressed directly is whatever absence or lateness which are affecting job performance and maybe in presenting the written notice can a discussion be made as an offering to help negate the problem as in FLMA, etc.

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