Forum

Telling Work about diagnosis and workplace confidentiality

Hi everyone

This whole subject has been playing on my mind alot lately and I really am in a kerffufle as to what to do or say to my employers. My job invloves alot of driving on a daily basis and I know that I am going to have to say something due to company insurance etc.

Basically I have worked for the same company for well over 15 years now, I have a good sick record (even during my last relapse I was only out for 1 week) and am quite well respected by my work colleagues. My manager is a total tool and is the kind of person who loves to hear of somebodys misfortune. I have heard him laugh out loud when he has been told of ex employees being diagnosed with cancer and also when one of them had lost a child. He really is a nasty piece of work,.

The company is a large international organisation with a HR department who in my working life, I have had no involvement with whatsoever. I’ve never spoken to anyone from HR for anything and don’t really know how they work. In fact if they heard my name they would probably say who? I dont think we have a occupational sick person at work just somebody fills the role now and then.

I am currently doing my normal job quite easily and at the moment would not require any change or help with my role. I am afraid though, that if I was to discuss my MS with the HR department, then my manager would find out, make my life really hard and try his hardest to force me out. He has an issue with any person who he would describe as being “not the norm”, i.e white and a marathon runner!

Some days, my job can involve driving a round trip of well over 400 miles, which I can still do easily, I do worry though, that somebody might step in and remove me from my driving based job and put me in a position in house. I would not have a clue at what sort of role I would have or if I could even do the job.

If I am perfectly honest, the only reason that prompts me to tell my employer is a, due to the insurance and b, in case we have some sort of critical health policy in place which might pay out. We do have private medical insurance and death cover but that won’t cover MS I don’t think. I don’t own a home, I rent, but I do need to stay in employment for another 10 months just so that I can clear some debt that I have accumulated. Fitnesses wise, the work side of things should be do able, however my concern is that I will get hounded out of my job and end up in a spot of bother.

I am going to have to tell them pretty soon, but what should I do if things dont go right, would I need to go out sick long term? I know they can’t just sack me or can they? If I do talk to someone in HR about my new diagnosis, can I ask for confidentiality and what are the laws around this?

Sorry for the long post, I have tried to talk to my wife about the issue, but she is a bit scared about everything and at the moment doesn’t want to face the reality of the future I think.

Thanks

Hey there. I’m sorry to hear of your diagnosis, there are a lot of things that are in your mind right now.

I just want to give you a brief outline of my background so you are not misled. I had transverse myelitis 2 years ago and spent time on this forum in “limboland” I got the all clear for MS at that point and went on to recieve a diagnosis of Behcet Disease, which is a chronic lifelong illness with similarities to MS. I am back on the site as it appears my diagnosis may be of MS/instead/additionally?

Like you I work with a complete tool who decides to “get rid” of people for any old reason but mainly for standing up for themselves.

Prior to being ill, like you daily drive a few hundred miles and put in a 9 hour plus day at whatever office I am at.

I have the equivalent of a HR degree though work operationally. I have in the past dished out advice telling people to stand up for themselves and that they are covered by the DDA, blah blah blah. But sadly, having found myself on the other end it can be meaningless when someone decides they want you gone, and makes life difficult for you. I have even had really personal stuff leaked which when you are operating at a senior level is embarassing. However, I have been touched by the support and kindness of the colleagues. The experience I have had in the last 2 years has really shocked me how blatantly “under the surface” discrimination can be,

Anyway, the DDA etc is there really to ensure that “reasonable adjustments” are made should you require them to be made.

Right now though, you don’t need any adjustments, so I would be awfully tempted to say nothing.

You could check into whether you have any critical illness under your company benefits policy without revealing your diagnosis.

However, if you do have a relapse then you may need to inform them that you had an MS diagnosis but wanted to “come to terms” with the diagnosis before sharing. In terms of discrimination against you…disability is a protected characteristic and MS is considered as a disability. They would have to accept that your absence level may be higher than it was previously.

As you seem to be aware though sadly there is more than one way to force someone out. It is very sad that it really does happen as you and I both know.

Just a final word though honey, it has taken me 2 years to realise that my health comes before work. I have dropped down to part time which went down like a lead balloon. Even part time is too much sometimes and Iike you I am clearing up financially and buying a couple of expensive things to make my disability easier and then reconsider whether I can continue to work.

Don’t feel under pressure to do too much quickly, you have a lot to think about and get your head around.

My reply is from the heart and I wish you well, PM anytime. Gill xx

Hi guys Just to let you know I am having terrible difficulties with my job. Trying to keep this all to myself. Be at work every day, attend appointments and scans. Be in good form and at the top of my game. It’s so tough. I’m wrestling with the telling/not telling them. Love Lilly xxx

If you have a dx of m.s. you should inform the DVLA. In all probability you will get the go-ahead to continue driving. (i’m assuming you drive a car in your job not a lorry.) You need to do this BEFORE telling anyone at work.

Thanks for the comments, they are greatfully recieved.