Conner LantzKeymasterOctober 31, 2023 at 10:48 pmPost count: 4836
We have an employee that has applied for short-term disability due to depression and has just informed me that he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Can I inform his manager of his diagnosis? If yes, how can we prepare his manager in knowing how to support an employee with a complex mental health condition?Conner LantzKeymasterOctober 31, 2023 at 10:51 pmPost count: 4836
In most cases, it is not appropriate to disclose an employee’s medical diagnosis, including a mental health diagnosis, to their manager without the employee’s explicit consent. Employee medical information is considered sensitive and private, and sharing such information without the employee’s consent may violate privacy laws, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in the United States or Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) in Canada. Additionally, disclosing such information without consent could be considered unethical and may create a breach of trust between the employee and the employer.
Here are some steps you can take to support your employee while respecting their privacy:
Encourage Open Communication: Let your employee know that you are there to support them and that they can come to you with any concerns or needs related to their mental health.
Maintain Privacy: Assure your employee that their medical information will be kept confidential and will not be shared with their manager or colleagues without their consent.
Offer Resources: Provide your employee with information about the company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or other mental health resources that are available to them.
Manager Training: While you cannot disclose the specific diagnosis to the manager without consent, you can provide the manager with general training on how to support employees with mental health challenges. This training should focus on:
- Promoting a stigma-free and inclusive workplace culture.
- Encouraging open communication and active listening.
- Identifying signs of distress or changes in behavior.
- Encouraging employees to seek help when needed.
- Making reasonable accommodations if necessary.
Reasonable Accommodations: Work with your employee to determine if any reasonable accommodations are needed to support them in their role. These accommodations should be based on the employee’s specific needs and may include flexible work hours, workload adjustments, or other support.
Remember, your primary goal is to create a supportive and understanding workplace for your employee. Respect their privacy, provide the necessary support, and ensure that your organization’s policies and actions align with applicable laws and regulations.
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