Q. We use Outlook calendars to track work schedules. Individual calendars are available for everyone to see so setting meetings is easy. We also list absences, noting that time blocked as “out” is vacation, sick time,, etc. Some employees have commented on who is out and why. I’ve suggested that absences should simply be coded as “unavailable,” rather than specifying a reason. Is that right? — M.L., Pennsylvania
A. Yes, coding employee absences as “unavailable” or “out of office” is advisable. Disclosing that an employee is out because of sickness orleave is problematic. An employer should never disclose that absences are due to medical or health reasons. You must maintain the confidentiality of such information.
Disclosures concerning such information should be strictly limited toand others that have a legitimate need to know. In your situation, it does not appear that there is a legitimate business reason to disclose to the entire company why an employee is absent.