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I live in the USA and work in the software industry. I suffer from a chronic illness, and am considering undergoing major surgery that will leave me convalescent for 8-12 weeks. I am still pursuing alternative, less invasive treatment options. If I exhaust these alternatives, I will likely schedule for surgery a few weeks out.

I have no doubt that my disability leave will be approved and that my manager will be supportive, but I don't want to disrupt my team's workflow by heading a central part of the project then suddenly leaving for 3 months on a short notice. On the other hand, if I end up not needing the surgery, I don't want to be relegated to doing side projects.

Should I tell my manager that I may possibly take leave later in the year, or should I say nothing until I schedule the operation, similar to the 2-week notice period principle?

  • What would be your goal by telling him so early? I wouldn't tell him. – Stephan Branczyk Jan 23 at 3:24
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Say nothing until you schedule unless you trust these people incredibly

If a team member quit with two weeks notice, your team would need to deal with it (and finding a replacement can easily 8-12 weeks anyway). If a team member had a heart attack and were not in the office tomorrow, your team would have to deal with it. If your team cannot handle that, that is an issue above your paygrade as far more complex losses of manpower will happen to this team than your surgery.

I have a co-worker who is out of our sprint for the week. We reshuffled the work and still think we can complete all but one of the sprint tasks. A QA is out on paternity leave. One of our devs now does part time QA if there is a crunch and we changed the work scheduling to more efficiently use our current QA. Our manager will soon be out on paternity leave and baby comes when baby comes. We will need to adapt to that as well.

A few weeks out is plenty of notice to give about this.

In a world of perfect non-judgemental humans, I would be in favor of telling. But that is not the world we live in. In a world where known and manageable risks didn't cause panic in the halls, I would be in favor of telling. But that is not the world we live in. Tell only if you really trust this manager to evaluate you fairly (especially considering that he has not walked in your shoes) and trust your co-workers to not see you as a slacker.

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