Managing the announcement of an employee's disability

par Quentin MICHELET

Manage the announcement of the disability of one of your employees

Une annonce, un choc

It all starts with a sentence, during a discussion or by e-mail. Your employee comes to you and says:

« I'd like to talk to you... »

As a benevolent manager, you organize an appointment as quickly as possible, despite your overloaded schedule.

You receive it and after a few minutes of interview, he tells you:

« I have a pathology leading to a handicap and I don't know what to do... »

How to react? You haven't learned how to handle these delicate situations. What can I do? Who to turn to? How do you enable him to continue working?

Reacting effectively

Your employee needs to be reassured!

To best accompany him, you need to understand the difference between compassion and empathy.

To do this, it is important to know this quote from Confucius:

"When a man is hungry, it is better to teach him to fish than to give him a fish! »

Here, someone with compassion gives fish to the hungry. The person who has empathy teaches him how to fish.

Compassion in this context means feeling sorry for your employee's situation and telling him or her that everything will be all right.

Whereas empathy means finding solutions to sustain one's work and/or employability. It also means assuring him/her of the company's willingness to do everything in its power to enable him/her to continue his/her work, under the best conditions, within your structure.

Please note:

As a manager, you are not entitled to ask your employee about the content of his or her disability. This could lead to legal action. You should simply refer him/her to the appropriate professionals.

If there is a Disability Referent in your company, suggest that your employee contact him or her in order to benefit from the best possible support.

In the absence of a referent, Human Resources Managers can be important in the management of this case.

Otherwise, you have to manage the situation with different actors.

Professionals and organizations you should know

The first one is the MDPH

(Maison Départementale Pour le Handicap), it is the organization to which you must redirect your collaborator. It assists disabled people in obtaining an RDW (Recognition as a Disabled Worker) from the competent authorities.

The second key partner is the Occupational Health Service.

You must call upon your company's referring healthcare professionals. They are the ones who will refer your employee to the competent organisations or to professional medicine.

It is the only one empowered to assess the employee's difficulties and to recommend adjustments and/or adaptations to the workplace. Once defined, you are required to respect them.

Depending on the disability, this may be related to working hours, the acquisition of new software, hardware or adapted furniture.

Planning and adapting, multiple challenges

You will be confronted with managerial, financial and organisational issues:

  • Your employee must not be considered as having an advantage over his colleagues
  • You must maintain your objectives and your budget
  • You must find the means to set up permanent and painless job adjustments and adaptations for the company.

These issues will be the subject of future articles. To learn more, you can contact HACTIF RSH and benefit from a personalized support on these data.

With the knowledge gained in this article, you have the keys to handle this situation. Will you be able to manage in this new context?

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