I have been offered (and accepted) a new job at a 4-year college as (basically) a research assistant. I am really looking forward to it, and want to make the best impression possible, especially since the terms are that after 2 semesters I will be up for a promotion with more responsibility and presumably more pay. The problem is, I have known for a few months that I will need surgery. I'm on medications that are working, but the side effects in the strategic term are disastrous. The surgery will leave me bedridden for 3 days to 3 weeks.I am assuming at this point that I will have at least some flexibility in scheduling the surgery.

I have not yet met with the primary contact (we have been corresponding by email). After orientation, I think he will hand me off to a professor whom I will be working with for the duration. As far as I can tell, these are my options;

  • Tell the contact person up-front, immediately (via email).
  • Tell the contact person at orientation (the 16th of this month).
  • Tell the professor, once we've been introduced.
  • Wait until I have a date (or optional dates) for the surgery.
  • See if I can get the surgery over winter break, and then decide if I should tell anyone.

Obviously, the above also applies to HR, which may or may not want all that stuff going through them.

Which of these should I do? On the one hand, I don't want to put anybody in a bad position where they are short-handed at a critical juncture. For all I know, they may have work I could do from home (I may be detailed to Comp Sci dept., for instance). On the other hand, I don't want to put them in the unpleasant position of having to plan for a 3-week absence that may or may not happen. Then, obviously, I leave myself open to the question of why I didn't let them know when I took the job, etc.

So, what is the best way to handle this situation?

  • I didn't know when I accepted it that I wouldn't be able to get it done over summer break. I have only a vague idea at this point how much flexibility I will have, – jamesson Aug 2 '17 at 1:23
  • What country are you in? If it's in the US, there are laws against terminating employment due to health issues. And against ADA prohibits discrimination based on health. – Michael Aug 2 '17 at 3:28

This I consider you should have mentioned before accepting the job, in the interview process perhaps.

Now, remember that your Health is a big priority. This intervention seems to be important for your wellbeing, so you should go for it, and also mention that via e-mail or phone ASAP. Your company surely will eventualy know about this, so the sooner the better they can prevent falling "short-handed".

Also, consider if there could be negative consecuences if you postpone the surgery, in case it is not that critical. Your Doctor is the one that can point out those consequences so you can decide better.

Hope you have a fast recovery anyways!

  • 1
    I am not sure about telling before acceptance. In many countries, I am legally not supposed to tell if I am planning to get pregnant. Which can lead to a similar situation, but I would get the opposite answer. And actually, planning pregnancy is a choice. Having to do an important surgery is not that much of a choice. It is a necessity. Now it is important to talk about it as early as possible and be as helpful as possible to get all necessary preparations done, but risking a job because of it? Why? – skymningen Aug 2 '17 at 8:24
  • The only situation that this information is helpful before accepting the job is if the employer wants to discriminate based on this information. Which is illegal in most countries. I agree on "as soon as possible", but only after you actually got the job. – nvoigt Aug 2 '17 at 9:18

You should let your boss know ASAP. Assuming you are in the US, there are laws against termination of employment due to health issues. That aside, you won't add value to your work if you are sick. Therefore you should let your boss know ASAP. Your boss is a human being, and I think he will understand that you need to take care of your health first.

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