I was discussing my future at my company with our HR head. I'm currently an intern/ executive administrative assistant and was trying to determine if there was possibility to move up in the company. I found out later she was telling other employees that I wasn't intending to stay as a result of the conversation. I have two concerns:

  1. That wasn't the message that I was trying to send by having the conversation with her and
  2. Is she allowed to tell other employees of my future plans without me formally telling my supervisor of my resignation?
  • 1
    Re 1: What is your question? Re 2: That is opinion-based or legal, which is off-topic for this site.
    – user8036
    Oct 23 '14 at 6:48
  • I believe that the kernel of this question has merit, but needs to be rewritten...
    – daaxix
    Oct 23 '14 at 17:22

Depends on who she told. Yes she would have a responsibility to tell your manager (or anyone in his or her chain of command) if you said you would be resigning. No, she should not tell your co-worker, Steve, who has no supervisory reponsiblity over you or Mary in Sales who would have no professional reason to know.

If you feel she miscommunicated to someone in your chain was what said, then I would go talk to her again and explain what you heard she said and why that was not the impression you intended to create. It may or may not be too late for this, but I would at least try.

Remember in the future that HR is not your friend. They have a duty to protect the company not you. There are times when helping you is in the best interests of the company and you can generally trust them in terms of things like benefits questions and fixing the problem with your pay (unless you work for a highly unethical company.)

But in general, you have to consider that nothing you say to HR is privledged and it will be discussed with others in your immediate chain of command if the HR person feels it is needed. They are, however, supposed to keep from spreading casual gossip to those who are not directly involved in an issue.

  • 6
    +1 for "HR is not your friend" (that should be bolded!). Also, HR really isn't the right place to talk about promotions, you should be having that discussion with your manager. Oct 23 '14 at 0:32
  1. That wasn't the message that I was trying to send by having the conversation with her and ...

Then email her her and tell her that your co-workers are telling you that you are not planning to hang around the firm, which is perplexing news to you. Because you made every effort to convey to her the opposite message. If somehow, there was a miscommunication as to your intentions, you apologize and take full responsibility for the miscommunication.

  1. Is she allowed to tell other employees of my future plans without me formally telling my supervisor of my resignation?

Read your own copy of the company's Employee Manual, and figure out the answer for yourself. Don't ask us. In fact, ask anybody but us. I don't have a clue why you think that we are the subject matter experts on your company's personnel policies. And we certainly don't have access to the Employee Manual. If the part of the Employee Manual where she is not allowed to do what she did is nowhere to be found in the Employee Manual, then draw your own conclusion as to what she is allowed to do and what she is not allowed to do.

  • 4
    There are plenty of professions (eg. lawyers, doctors) where there are legal limits on how much they can say about their customers. In most countries, HR is not one of these, but it's not unreasonable to ask; at the very least, the OP's HR has been grossly unprofessional here. Oct 23 '14 at 0:31
  • @jpatokal Your punditry about whether the behavior is "professional" or not is irrelevant. The only thing that's relevant is whether the company's Employee Manual forbids HR from acting the way they did. Your calling HR's behavior "unprofessional" is an exercise in feel-good futility, which does not get anyone anything nor does it change anything. It's like the Morality Police telling bad guys that they are bad - you are not saying anything they don't know, and it doesn't change anything for anyone. Oct 23 '14 at 4:12
  • @jpatokal The OP is actually LUCKY that word of the miscommunication is getting back to him. Because he can take immediate corrective action regarding the miscommunication. The worst case is the miscommunication being disseminated to everyone, with the OP being none the wiser. Oct 23 '14 at 4:38
  • 3
    I find your faith in this mystical Employee Manual touching. Simply put, if the OP thinks the HR person is out of line (="unprofessional"), they can escalate the issue to the HR person's manager. They'll have a slightly stronger case if they can quote chapter and verse, but it's not going to reverse the damage done or win them new friends. Oct 23 '14 at 6:53
  • 1
    @jpatokal, no - HR is only expected to maintain confidentiality to people the information is not relevant to. HR people have to be trusted not to tell company confidential information, so they can't be gossips about what was said. However, they have an actual obligation to tell managers when a problem is brought to them or when they hear of something that can affect the mangement of the copmany including whether an employee is considering resiging. Their actual job is to protect the company and that often involves disseminating the contents of conversations to people who are affected.
    – HLGEM
    Oct 23 '14 at 13:25

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