I have been working with my current employer for 7 months. I am an interim employee and currently on project that is ending in December. I have an 'indefinite' contract. (I'm in The Netherlands)

About a year or 2 ago I started feeling under the weather from time to time. I visited the doctor recently and after multiple appointments and tests we figured out I have a chronic illness. It's a disease that causes 'flares', which come and go. I could go months without an issue, I could potentially have issues for months. There's no way to know or predict this. So far it has been very doable with the right medication and in those 7 months I have only had to call in sick for 1 day.

Because I work on a project and doctors appointments are either made before work or on remote working days, my employer doesn't know about any of this. I will get an official statement from my doctor in 3 weeks, when my first medication plan is in.

Is it better to be open about this news? Do I tell him now, or in 3 weeks? Should I wait until it causes actual issues in my working days?

  • You should start researching now what it takes to obtain disability in the Netherlands for your illness. My wife suffers from a very similiar sounding illness and in some cases here in the US you can go on disability if the problems become severe enough. But it can take a lot of documentation. You will want to start now, documenting days where you were unable to work or were at a reduced capacity etc. Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 18:47
  • @BillLeeper Maybe I'm not familiar with the concept but what would I win by obtaining disability?
    – Summer
    Commented Sep 7, 2018 at 7:45
  • Disability in the United States means that Social Security will make a payment to you for the rest of your life until you reach retirement age. Your retirement benefits will be based on how much you have worked in your life so far, as will the disability benefits. You cannot however, continue to work, you are disabled so claiming disability and collecting the payments and then finding other work would be cheating the system. Not sure what the system in the Netherlands is, but they are much more progressive than the US Commented Sep 10, 2018 at 21:22

3 Answers 3


Tell him now.

Downplay the fact that it's going to cause problems in your work, but let him know there's a possibility that your work may be impacted in the future due to this.

Being forewarned is a courtesy that he'd most probably appreciate rather than suddenly being told that you're unable to work due to a condition that you knew about months previously and didn't tell anyone about.

  • This is the only way to handle the situation. The longer you wait the worse it is.
    – Neo
    Commented Sep 14, 2018 at 12:27

Is it better to be open about this news?

Yes. Open is almost always better.

Do I tell him now, or in 3 weeks?

Do it now. Explain what you know, and what you expect to learn and when.

Should I wait until it causes actual issues in my working days?

No. Do it now. Explain what issues you anticipate, what you will do those days, and discuss what you would like your employer to do.

Working together on these issues is always best. And managers tend to dislike being surprised. Start the process now.

  • 1
    Sharing health info with your employer is never a good idea. First reason being is you don't have to. Second is that it's not his business to know (or to care). Third reason would be that your are basically sabotaging your position and giving them time to replace you. It's enough to inform them that you have a condition (you don't have to say which) and that might affect your productivity. Unless a physician declares you unfit to work, I wouldn't share health issues with my employer.
    – BoboDarph
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 9:55
  • 2
    @BoboDarph I have an 'indefinite' contract, legally I can not be replaced.
    – Summer
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 10:14
  • Your choice friend. I've had friends convinced to quit after admitting to seeng a shrink in a team meeting. I've witnessed disability employees fired for made-up charges just because they just didn't need to fill quotas anymore. I guess the methods differ from country to country, but in my experience, it's never a good idea to share health issues with your co-workers or employer. Do with this advice what you will.
    – BoboDarph
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 10:26
  • @BoboDarph I have seen the same, on both sides. In both cases once management knew they had serious issues their time was limited. In the first case they took a medical package reluctantly after months. In the second the person could have stayed at work, and was legally able to do so, but was basically pushed out. Some employers do react badly to this type of situation. Know your employer.
    – Underverse
    Commented Jan 1, 2019 at 11:35

First of all let me express my sympathies for you, since, as I know it from my own experience, a chronic disease/pain can cause some real uncomfortable situations for you.

Nonetheless, I also am diagnosed with a chronic disease, specifically a disease categorized as IBD (inflammatory bowel disease). Having said that, I think that your supervisor should know what is going up with you since it may affect your performance. I started a new job just a week ago and I have let my employer know about my disease on day 1.

So, this is my experience and I would advise everyone to do the same.

Stay strong.

  • Can you keep tabs on this answer and update it if anything changes in your situation as it applies to this question.
    – Underverse
    Commented Jan 1, 2019 at 11:36

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