HIV disclosure to HR on job
Feb 27, 2006
I am going to disclose my HIV+ status to the benefits manager in the Human Resources Department on my job. I need to do this because I have to ask for a letter from them on their letterhead stating that they pay for 50% or more of my health care premiums and that letter will help me get my insurance premiums that I pay for thru payroll deductions paid for by a separate program connected to ADAP health insurance that I have that doesn't cover procedures that may be necessary for me to have (and are not covered by ADAP). Mammograms, co-pays when I have to use my health insurance from the job are examples of things NOT covered by ADAP. I am concerned that letting them know my status since I probably will qualify for this other insurance connected to ADAP (APIC), will somehow become public knowledge within the job. If the total amount of the combination of all my insurance premiums (health, dental & vision) is 4% or more of my total annual salary, then APIC will pay the premiums and costs of extra procedures and co-pays when I have to use the job insurance. How can I guarantee that as few people as possible have to know this info??? I ask this because it will become apparent that my HIV+ status has caused me to always use ALL of my sick time, sometimes very quickly early in the calendar year and at times I've exhausted both sick and vacation time and have, on occasion in the past, had to be docked pay because I used time I didn't actually have. There doesn't seem to be anyway around this as I need to get this letter from Human Resources and I will be doing this within the next two weeks, as I have procedures coming up (2/1) that need to be covered. How should I approach this with the Benefits Manager to minimize the # of people who need to know this info.? Please answer as soon as you can. Does something like this get put into my personnel file? Could it be held against me, unbeknownst to me, especially if I try to apply for a promotion? I've worked at this company since 5/98 and been HIV+ since 1991. They may already know my status because when I first got hired, I may have written it in the section on the application re health matters - I really don't remember and I have not needed to look into my personnel file since starting. Please advise.
Response from Ms. Breuer
There are two ways to approach this issue: 1. Why should applying for this coverage require you to disclose your diagnosis to your employer? Either they pay 50% or they don't. That's all their letter needs to say. You are not obligated to tell them the "backstory."
But the other approach, given the rest of your letter, is that you need the HR director as an ally. Make an appointment, begin by reminding the HR director that s/he is required by law to keep your medical information confidential, and ask for the HR director's advice, given your situation. You're being such a good planner now; please don't wait until your job is threatened to tell HR that you live with a disability as defined by the ADA and you need help strategizing accommodations so that when you've used up your sick leave, you don't end up on probation. In none of these conversations do you need to state your diagnosis. "Disability" is all you need to say to a well-informed HR director.
Your personnel file and your medical file in the personnel office must by law be kept separate, and the one containing medical information must be under lock and key.
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