Q: An employee of ours has gone on FMLA leave to care for a family member, and she asked us via email to tell her co-workers the reason she’s taking time off. Is this okay?
A: In general, when an employee is out, we recommend informing coworkers only that the employee is on a leave of absence. The reasons for the leave are not any of the coworkers’ business, and the employee might not want the reasons known by others. Moreover, sick leave, family leave, and disability laws often specifically protect this information.
In this case, since this employee has specifically asked you to inform the other employees that she will be out on a “family care” leave, and you have this request from the employee in writing, you should be fine sharing this information. In the absence of any such written request from an employee, however, we would recommend defaulting to stating only that an employee is off work on a leave of absence, letting the employee share additional information at their discretion.
Learn more about the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and tips for administering it by watching the webinar, "Navigating Leaves of Absence and the FMLA."