It’s one of our most frequently asked questions: should I tell my boss about PMDD? In all honesty, it really depends on your situation and circumstances. But, here’s why we think being open about PMDD at work can be helpful.
It’s important to know that the moment you tell your employer that you have PMDD, they have a responsibility to provide support – also called ‘reasonable adjustments’ – to help you do your job and remain in work. In the UK, this is part of the Equality Act 2010.
If your employer knows about your condition and fails to support you, or treats you differently, then you may have a case for discrimination on the grounds of gender or disability. However, the important thing to note here, is that employers can only be found to discriminate against an employee (or a potential employee) because of their disability where they know or ought reasonably to have known that the individual has a disability. This is why it is helpful to be open about PMDD.
In a recent case (published in People Management magazine), Mrs Z had suffered from mental and psychiatric impairments for a number of years, including stress, depression, low mood and schizophrenia. She did not disclose these to her employer at the outset of her employment. When asked about her absence in her previous role she said this was because of injuries following a car accident and stated in her medical questionnaire that she did not have a disability or any mental or physical impairment.
During her employment Mrs Z was absent for 85 days, of which 52 were recorded as sickness absence. The reasons given by Mrs Z were physical ailments and not the mental health conditions that were in fact the real reason for her absence. Sound familiar?
Subsequently, Mrs Z was absent for a further period, during which she was signed off with low mood. At this point, she admitted to her employer that she was feeling incredibly depressed (although she said the reason for this was difficulties with her son). However, what she didn’t disclose was that she had been hospitalised for more than two weeks.
Following this period of absence, Mrs Z was dismissed because of her attendance record.
Following her dismissal, Mrs Z tried to claim disability discrimination against her employer. However, in this case, her employer was found not liable. This is because Mrs Z had continued to withhold information about her mental health, which meant that her employer could not have been expected to know that she was disabled. However, had she been open about her condition, there may have been a different outcome.
One to keep in mind the next time you consider calling in sick for PMDD and blaming it on a stomach bug….
You may also be interested in these webinars from our Luna Hub webinar library:
PMDD in the Workplace – what every employer needs to know (free webinar)