Many people fear that discussing their health with their boss will lead to difficult discussions and, in the worst case scenario, potentially even repercussions.
When it comes to managing our lives, most of us have two versions of ourselves, our work self, and our actual self.
Our work self is the most professional version of who we are. Our work self wouldn’t use emojis; would always seek to be polite; and would never dream of being anything less than perfectly presentable at all times. We try to ensure every day is a Good Day for our work self; this version is always smiling, happy to help, and nothing is ever too much trouble for him or her.
Our actual self, on the other hand, is who we truly are; our authentic persona, who has good days, bad days, is happy to curl up on the sofa wearing comfortable clothes, and roll their eyes if confronted with a task they don’t want to do.
For most of us, this division – work self vs actual self – is an important one. It’s important for our health and well-being, to feel that we hold something of our ourselves back from our professional life. It’s also important for our relationship with our boss, who we always want to impress, and to see us at our very best.
However, there is an issue that can blur the line between a person’s work self and their actual self: health.
Initially, it seems that this line is rather strong: health falls into the category of “actual self”, surely? While it would be preferable if this were the case, sometimes, it’s not always possible. If you have a chronic health condition or experience an accident severe enough to require substantial rehabilitation and the assistance of an injury lawyer to rectify, then the lines will blur – and this can be very difficult to deal with.
Many people fear that discussing their health with their boss will lead to difficult discussions and, in the worst case scenario, potentially even repercussions. This is particularly true if you have a chronic condition; with acute issues, such as injuries, you can at least estimate a time when you will recover and be able to go back to work. If you are dealing with an acute issue, then your best way of discussing your health with your boss is usually to be upfront and, if possible, provide medical evidence to explain why you need time off.
For chronic conditions, the matter is far more delicate. You have to decide, for yourself, how much of your health condition you are willing for your work self to reveal. This is a highly personal matter; some people are comfortable telling their boss everything, others prefer to keep to the bare minimum.
However, what cannot be overlooked is the fact that you need to say something. If you have a chronic condition, your boss needs to be aware of this – for their benefit, and for yours. If you do not inform your boss of your condition, then they may penalize you if you take too much time off, or even suspect you are claiming ill health as an excuse. By informing them, upfront, that you have a condition that may impact your ability to work, you can at least ensure they are aware of the situation.
A final thought
Finally, it can be helpful to read up on employment rights before entering into this discussion – this applies to both acute and chronic health issues and injuries. If you suspect that your boss is discriminating against you due to your disclosure, you do have recourse, so it may be worth seeking assistance in this scenario.