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Employer wants to know illness: Do you have to disclose it?

You are ill and report to your employer unfit for work after a visit to the doctor. This one wants to know absolutely what you are ill with. While you have a good relationship with the boss and perhaps the question is legitimate, but does he not go a little too far with this question? Do you actually have to tell him what the condition is?

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Of course your employer is interested in why exactly his employees stay at home because of illness. Finally, he must be able to plan with them. Also in the work routines take into account work absences. But one thing should be said in advance: As a general rule, it is none of the employee's business what you are missing, nor is he allowed to snoop through your medical records.

Doubts about the illness?

There are always employers who are persistent and want to know what is wrong with you, or worse, even doubt that you are sick at all. If the distrust of the employee is very great, then a boss will sometimes resort to spying and may even hire a detective to check whether the employee with the back problem is not perhaps secretly working on the remodeling of his house. Or call the doctor directly. But he is not allowed to say anything, as medical confidentiality is paramount.

Although the employer can demand that you, as an employee, present a certificate of incapacity for work from the doctor directly on the first day of illness, the famous "yellow slip", this does not contain any information on the reason for the incapacity for work in the copy for the employer. Only on the copy, which goes to the health insurance, the illness is specified, but also there this is coded as a rule and not for everyone visible.

Medical confidentiality applies – always

If the employee has doubts about the illness, he is allowed to investigate (with the mentioned detective), but he can also visit you at home. In the most common cases, your employee will contact the health insurance company directly and express his or her doubts there. This can then cause the medical service to become involved. But its findings may not be passed on by the health insurance company to the employer.

In some cases, disease can also be discovered during a routine checkup by the company doctor. He may tell the employer whether you are still able to perform your current job, but he is also not allowed to pass on a diagnosis.

When information is mandatory

In general, your illness will not be disclosed to the public as long as you do not want it to be disclosed and do not disclose the reason of your own accord. But there are always situations in which you have to tell your employer what you are ill with. Although these are exceptional cases, they do occur regularly. For example, if you have a contagious disease, the company must know this and take appropriate action. Your colleagues may have to be tested to ensure that they are not infected.

Similarly, if you are employed in the hospital sector or in food production – both very sensitive areas where hygiene plays a major role and no one wants to risk the transmission of pathogens. Imagine that these find their way into the hospital, the catering trade or food production! Here, common sense already tells you that the employer absolutely must know about the illness. But in all other cases: It is simply none of his business!

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