I'm still within my first month at a new job. I have been under medical treatment for a while (months, years) now which require periodic appointments. In general I am able to perform my duties as expected. As far as I can ascertain, I would not qualify under a disabled category that out local labor law provides protection for. I have been upfront about these health challenges from the interview stage, and the employer obviously has still seen his way open to offer me employment. To their credit, they are very accommodating towards all employees with flexible office hours and allowing some work from home where practicable.

I have recently developed another small but embarrassing and interfering medical problem - including excruciating pain while sitting at my desk or commuting, potential of obvious and embarrassing external signs. So I see it as a fairly serious impairment to my work (even though the problem itself is mostly easily treated). This made me leave the office to seek medical attention on short notice.

I should probably also mention that the new job is a commute from my home (and support network of medical practitioners that I know and trust) that is on the longish side. Leaving the office for a quick appointment may be a 2 hours gap if the appointments happens close to its time and is concluded speedily.

So on the one hand there are valid medical challenges to the normal expectation of providing labor. On the other hand I do not want to create the impression that I am trying to shirk responsibilities by making up all sorts of reasons, even before I have been able to prove my worth to the new employer - despite what the law stipulates, there is always the human factor.

How much explanation would be sufficient, and how much would be over-sharing?

Some people may be interested in the locale, but the company is a very diverse group with many ethnicities, religions and cultural backgrounds represented. I do know that the above problem is almost unknown amongst certain ethnic groups (and may thus not be seen as such a big issue), and I am also ignorant how various cultural backgrounds would look upon the discussion of such a private matter.

  • Hemorrhoids do not care about race. I have them for time to time. Use medication and if they are bleed put toilet paper in your underwear
    – Ed Heal
    Commented Apr 28, 2017 at 21:46
  • @EdHeal: the piles are just an example. Other (actual) examples: orthodontic appliance breaks and needs fixing within about 2 days to prevent loss of progress, tooth breaks, some spinal straining during sleep that begs for a chiropractor/physiotherapist visit... Getting older seems to be a battle.
    – frIT
    Commented Apr 28, 2017 at 22:11
  • Are you opposed to wearing padded underwear, like Depends? If your pants are tight, it will show. But I think you should be honest with your manager, and not share as much with your co-workers if you don't want to
    – user66700
    Commented Apr 28, 2017 at 22:17
  • @fr13d,You should visit to your doctor and ask for evaluation. Once you have an diagnosis, notify to HR and ask him for accommodation (as you described here). Until HR's answer, try to work as much confortable as possible. Just my two cents. Commented Apr 28, 2017 at 22:48
  • Locale could still be important: Some countries health system does require you to attend (at least for general care) to doctors close to your home and might actually not allow you to change to some closer to your workplace at all, which makes the long commute to appointments unavoidable and out of your possibilities to change.
    – skymningen
    Commented Apr 29, 2017 at 15:12

4 Answers 4


This is a conversation you should have with your manager, but not your coworkers and not HR unless the manager involves them. As a new employee your focus is on making sure your manager maintains a positive impression of you.

I've had to approach my (past) manager about medical stuff, though not in my first months of employment, and I've heard anecdotally about (past) coworkers who've done so. The keys to success, based on what I've seen, are:

  • Clearly communicate about the impact on your work of your medical issue, and also about its expected duration. (And if it was a sudden thing, like it sounds like this was, mention that.) Focus on how it affects your work, not on the medical details themselves.

  • Show what you are doing about it that is within your control.

  • Suggest changes that would help you alleviate the problem.

(This is actually very similar to what I did, and advise doing, when requesting a disability accommodation.)

For example:

I have a temporary medical issue that makes it hard for me to sit for very long without being in pain. The doctor thinks it'll clear up in about two weeks with the medication he's put me on. He recommends that I take breaks to lie down every couple hours, but I think if I don't have to sit as much I might not need to do that. Would it be possible for me to use (or rig up) a standing desk until this clears up? Or do we have any more of those kneeling chairs like I saw $coworker using?

(I am obviously making up details here. Treat this as a template. You'd take the same general approach if requesting a temporary change of hours, for instance.)

It sounds like there are ways you can mitigate the staining problem. Padded undies might feel embarrassing to you, but nobody else needs to know, assuming there's no work uniform that involves mandatory tight pants.

If you show that you're doing what you can and are a team player, it's likely in my experience that your manager will also do what he can. And who knows -- he might even tell you to work from home so you can lie down as needed.


The blunt truth is that some companies will bend over backwards to make you comfortable and help you get the treatment you need ... and some won't. In many jurisdictions it is illegal to terminate or otherwise discriminate against an employee for medical reasons, but if your issues are chronic and consistent you can apply for "disability" status. This would further protect you in case there is a conflict.

As a new employee you're certainly in a more precarious and uncomfortable situation, but I think there is no less protection under the law. Even if you are in a "probationary" period you still cannot be fired for illegal reasons. If you are disabled, your employer must provide "reasonable accommodation".

See this site for more information. http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/reasonable-accommodations-people-with-disabilities-29492.html

Note also that it may have been illegal to ask about your medical condition when hiring you, so it should not be a factor now ... but all of this is a legal gray area, and of course you're better off having a frank discussion with your employer (without going into too much detail) to allow them to give you reasonable accommodation. For example, perhaps you can finish up work from home on days when you have doctor's appointments?


I think, if the need makes itself apparent, that you provide your management with just enough information for anyone involved to make a reasonable assessment about your availability from week to week. Yes, there will be emergent issues. A manager needs to know what s/he can count on.

But PLEASE, skip the gory details.

  • There is a way that the OP can approach to his/her boss or HR without disclosing such details? maybe showing a medical statement would be enough? Commented Apr 28, 2017 at 22:36
  • I'm all for not sharing gory details... but am also afraid that not sharing enough may lead people to just brush it of - see e.g. various comments about just wearing padded underwear.
    – frIT
    Commented Apr 29, 2017 at 12:31

This is tricky to maneuver since it has a real impact on your work and since you are new it can easily be interpreted as "the dog ate my homework"

Here is what I recommend:

  1. Familiarize yourself with the options that are available in your environment and the applicable rule and regulations: flexible hours, reduced hours, short term disability, medical leave of absence, etc. Read up on local law and study the company policies.
  2. Discuss with your doctor. Try to be specific about identifying what your needs are. What are the accommodations you need to be functional at work. Do this with a potential option from item #1 in mind.
  3. Have your doctor write a recommendation that clearly states your accommodations required.
  4. Then talk to your manager. He needs to know what your needs are, but he doesn't need to know what causes the need. In the US under HIPAA he/she isn't even allowed to ask.
  5. Be prepared to make some concessions: maybe it's reduced hours at reduced pay. You want to come across as constructive: "lets find a way to make this work and I'm happy to do whatever I can".
  6. Any non-trivial accommodation will probably involve HR. Be prepared for your boss to pull in HR and have the doctor's note handy.

The key here is to be specific as possible about what accommodations you need. Make sure you think this through up front: could be 2-hour lunch break, work half a day from home, doing a noon to 8pm shift instead of regular hours. Just be sure you have something that you can say yes to.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .