When you have to take time off work for frequent doctors’ appointments, how can you schedule them to minimize the effect on your workday? What are the best ways to explain your absences to your boss, secretary, and other coworkers? Reader L wonders:
I was wondering what the proper etiquette is to deter nosy coworkers when you are frequently in and out of the office for medical attention. While my team superior is aware of the procedures I need done so I can request time out, the other people that I work with daily are extremely nosy and ask questions as if they were trying to diagnose me. One even asked about my bathroom habits! As a young professional, how do I communicate to people I work with and under to explain frequent absences without compromising some privacy? Telling them I was out for a procedure or just not feeling well is apparently too vague and spurs intrusive follow-up questions. I understand that they are genuinely concerned, but I want to keep my health problems private except for HR and my boss.
Meanwhile, a second reader, S, is stressed about how her high-risk first-trimester pregnancy is affecting her job. Due to a subchorionic hemorrhage, she’s limited in her activities at home and at work, and she was nearly hospitalized for hyperemesis gravidarum (severe morning sickness). She hasn’t yet announced to her coworkers that she’s pregnant.
Great questions, Readers L and S. I think that any time you’re getting into the realm of health-related issues (whether pregnancy or other things), it’s in your best interest to keep things on the DL — coworkers just don’t need to know until there’s Something to Know. We’ve talked about how to deal with a miscarriage at work, as well as how to deal with a potentially embarrassing illness — but we haven’t talked about this directly. These are a few tips that I can think of, but I’m curious to hear what readers say: