I am part of a small team, so unlike big companies, one person can make a massive difference, whether for good or bad.

My work is considering rehiring someone who handed in their notice last year and moved on. This person was always a good team player, and certainly knows the job much better than a new hire off the street.

My work heard that the person’s job fell through and want to offer him a position back with us. I have been asked to give input. However I am aware that the person has recently been diagnosed with a serious illness. This of course would likely impact our tiny team as understandably they will have more time off on sick leave than the average person.. and if the illness should progress then we could be talking long term sick leave.

I want the best for this person, and would certainly never disclose their private business to my workplace, however, should I encourage my work to take them on knowing what I know, or try to steer them in the direction of another candidate?

Edit: Additional information. I am in the UK. This person has not applied for a rehire, but there’s about to be an opening so they are considering whether to contact him directly and make the offer and that’s where I’ve been asked for input. He is currently unaware that he is being considered. I am assuming as he’s been job hunting for a month or two that he would be inclined to accept, at least for now, he only left us for more money, not because of problems. And I know he’s ill because he told me, though as stated previously I would not divulge this information.

  • 3
    Can you add your location? In the US, it would be illegal to discriminate based on a medical condition. Some of the nuances of these protections depend on the status of the (potential) employee and the size of the company. You should consult a lawyer before even indirectly hinting at any condition.
    – dwizum
    May 16, 2018 at 19:14
  • 1
    Will the illness directly influence this person's ability to perform in the position she is being considered for? May 16, 2018 at 19:54
  • If the person was well enough on a given day then no it would not impact their work. However, given the nature of the illness and likely treatments involved there may be fewer and fewer ‘well enough’ days.
    – Hoxie
    May 16, 2018 at 20:10

3 Answers 3


That is a brutally complicated question, but I guess my answer here is: Do not use this information as an input. It takes an enormous amount of maturity to do so, but evaluate this person as if you were never told about the illness.

Why do I recommend doing so:

1 - I firmly believe that health problems should not interfere in your ability to be hired for whatever position. It doesn't matter if this is a startup or a multi-billionaire company. People get sick, and your most prominent players can become sick one day, out of sheer chance.

2 - You are reporting that this person is the most suitable you know for this position. If he/she's got the characteristics you need in a better degree than other candidates, that is enough for your hiring.

Treat this situation similarly to having 'insider information' in the stock market. It is something that could pay off really well to you, but unfortunately is against the rules to take advantage from that. In that case, against moral rules.

I wish the best recovery for this person. In the long term, if this person is a truly stellar professional, the treatment for this illness will be just a very tiny fraction of his/her overall trajectory.

  • 2
    To add to this, The candidates medical condition is none of OPs business. It is up to the candidate to decide if they want to disclose that or not and up to the people actually doing the hiring how they want to handle it. May 17, 2018 at 13:47

It doesn't sound like you really know anything. You don't mention how you know that this person has fallen ill. If you heard it through the gossip mill, it is very likely exaggerated - and perhaps entirely false.

Whether they are capable of working or not is between themselves and their doctor.

Exposing your company to a discrimination lawsuit based on a rumor doesn't sound like a great way to protect it.

  • See the OP's edits. They know of the illness because they were told directly by the former colleague.
    – David K
    May 16, 2018 at 19:50

The people here telling you this is against some discrimination law seem to have missed the part where you stated that said person has not even applied, is not even aware of an opening, and is POSSIBLY being offered a job by your employer.

Let me succinctly state that they are wrong.

And even if they did apply, they are wrong that all medical conditions are protected. The company is not obligated to hire you as a developer if you have a brain tumor. They're not going to hire you as an undersea welder if you have frequent seizures or strokes.

If your company wants to support this individual with their healthcare benefits then that is their prerogative. But if they hire this person and they become dead weight (long leaves of absence as you stated) which will increase the stress and workload on you and your coworkers, then yes for the good of your company and co-workers you should let them know of this possibility.

If they choose to continue with their offer then that's their prerogative.

If they do not choose to continue with their offer but the individual applies, then you will need to start documenting.

  • start documenting what? May 17, 2018 at 13:50

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