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Telling staff about co-worker's health issues

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in The HR Specialist Forum

Question: “Recently an employee had chest pains at work and was taken to the hospital. To respect his privacy, we did not make an all-staff announcement about what happened, but did tell management. However, some employees who were very concerned about their co-worker got upset that we didn't keep them informed. Did we handle this correctly? What's should our policy be on disclosing an employee’s health issues to other employees?”—Pierre in AZ


This is a sticky situation that happens frequently, whether it's chest pains, an off work accident that others know about, surgery or a new baby. Unfortunately because of HIPPA you can get in trouble relaying any medical information to anyone, including management. I handle workers comp, short term disability and FMLA and struggle with what is allowable to relay to a supervisor or department head on a daily basis.

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