An employee has a severely distended stomach and gaunt looking neck/face, which occurred over the last month or so. Employees are coming to HR requesting that he be approached about his "illness" and if necessary taken to the hospital. I advise them that all employees have privacy rights and the company will not interfere. (His supervisor is concerned, but has told me that his performance is not an issue yet).

How would you handle?


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  • "I advise them that all employees
    >have privacy rights and the company will not interfere".

    Unless productivity or performance begin to wane, in my humble opinion, you have already handled this as you should have with your quote above.
  • The only other step you might want to take is to let the person know that they can take time off under the FMLA if they need it.

    Good Luck!
  • I see nothing wrong, and responsive to what is in view, with going to the employee and saying "don't want to intrude, but you seem to be having a problem. If there is anything that we can do let us know".
  • Playing devil's advocate here, and I say that to him. He replies with an abrupt snap, "So, you nosey bastard. I'm gaining a little weight and just learned I'm diabetic. So, you go around sticking your damned HR nose in everybody's business around here? Huh? Huh?" Then three days later his wife calls and says his doctor says I am the reason for his stress and he hasn't slept since I 'confronted' him about his appearance and he overheard his manager making a crack about it too and he needs a couple of weeks away from this place and I'm gonna pay for it one way or another. Hmmmm. What now?
  • That's the risk that you run. Not saying anything may mean he is saying "jeez, they can't even see that my stomachs distended, that my neck has shrunk and that I might die before the shift is over. Uncaring yo-yos will probably step over me when I'm laying on the floor."
  • [font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 11-14-02 AT 07:35PM (CST)[/font][p]Without being uncaring but maybe souding uncaring, the only really, management way to deal with this, after the humane ways have been tried, is to have the employee do some work. Set the expectation that certain work has to be done by certain time and the superivsor makes sure that the work is being done as usual. That may mean some monitoring. If he's functioning within usual range, then leave it alone.

    Remember, when an employee reports to work he is essentially saying, "I am able and ready to and alert for work." If after he starts working, if he begins to fail then the sueprvisor should ask why and if he say's I'm not feeling well, then the supervisor says, "then you need to go home and take the rest of the day off as sick time. But as long as you stay here, you are expected to work meeting the demands of the job. (The supervisor should be evaluating ongoing for alertness and ability to complete the duties)." If he can't, in essence, you have someone in the same condition as if he were thought to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. I'm not saying that is what you have, but that is the same impact on the job -- an inability to perform the duties or an unalertness, or sleepiness, or whatever that interferes with his proper functioning at work.

    Then the employee is forced either to go home (someone may take him if he is not capable of driving safely) or not be considered working --- let him go sit in the cafeteria without pay, but on sick leave.
  • Thanks so much for the feedback. This forum is great! By the way, I did ask him if I could assist and his response was a curt "no, I am fine". While we have a very good leave policy, including a 12-week Medical Disability Leave, we are not subject to FMLA (under 50 employees). Thanks again one and all.

  • the only really,
    >management way to deal with this, after the humane ways have been
    >tried, is to have the employee do some work. Set the expectation that
    >certain work has to be done by certain time and the superivsor makes
    >sure that the work is being done as usual. That may mean some

    "Do some work"? I think it's important to note that the original post told us that there is no performance or productivity issue here, with the caveat 'yet', which is purely speculative. So now we have a productive employee who the crack medical staff, serving there as managers, have diagnosed as ill...and he's been approached with a comment suggesting the company thinks he may have health issues. And he has told 'us' to 'Mind your own business. I am fine!' Now, I fear we will have a formerly productive employee who grows increasingly defensive and perhaps, but hopefully not, combative, and who will probably become less productive and withdrawn.
  • I'd say as long as the guy can do his job, leave him alone. Surely, he knows about FMLA and if he needs it, he will approach Human Resources. Some people (believe it or not) want to keep their personal lives/problems to themselves. I don't believe in meddling unless it's necessary.

    If these employees are so curious, let them do the asking.
  • As long as work performance is not suffering, I agree with the majority here, that it is best to MYOB. HOWEVER, I think some of it may depend on the specifics of the relationship ie if the guy had worked with me for 20 years I might go with a milder versions of Gillians approach. .a dead in the eye, "How are things going?" You may get fine, in which case move on. .or you may open the door to have the guy spill his guts and tell you more than you want to hear. We had a similar case and the response was, "Well you know I am having some health problems, but Dr. is trying to figure them out. Thanks for asking." He did die within weeks but in talking to his family after the fact, he did indeed know what was up, but was somewhat in denial and also wanted to work and keep his life normal for as long as he could. HIS choice.
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