I've been out of the office for 3 days and will be returning the day after tomorrow. The reason I have been out is to watch over my uncle with a serious illness. My aunt is out of town, but is coming back tomorrow night.

This illness is a little embarrassing. Even though my uncle doesn't know my boss, I don't think he would feel comfortable if I shared his medical information. Because of the fact that I have been out for 3 days, my boss wants to know what's wrong with my uncle.

How can I respond to my boss when that information is private?

  • 3
    Can you get a letter from your uncle's doctor saying that he is ill, without specifying the condition, and needed care during your aunt's absence? Commented Jun 7, 2019 at 20:23
  • My boss requested medical information about a family member - An accurate answer is going to depend on what specific medical information your boss asked for.
    – joeqwerty
    Commented Jun 7, 2019 at 21:30
  • What do you mean “requested medical information”?
    – user70848
    Commented Jun 8, 2019 at 1:27

1 Answer 1


I'd give the boss the benefit of the doubt that he's not just being nosy and awkwardly trying to figure out what to expect going forward. Presumably, he's trying to figure out things like whether you're going to be missing more work, whether you're going to need to take care of your uncle on short notice, etc. He's not asking the question well but you should be able to answer the question he should be asking

It should be perfectly acceptable to say something like

"My uncle is a very private person and it isn't my place to give specifics of his medical condition." Then explain what impact you expect going forward, something like one of

  • This was a one-time incident that we don't expect to reoccur
  • This is a chronic condition that he and my aunt have a handle on, I just needed to cover when my aunt went out of town
  • This is a chronic condition that will, unfortunately, require me to take off a few days here and there when it flares up
  • Whatever other information you can provide to set expectations

If you have the sort of job where taking three days off would require a doctor's note, you could offer to get a note from your uncle's doctor confirming that he required your assistance without divulging the condition.

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