The All Access ERG Mental Health Initiative subcommittee, in collaboration with the Nuclear Science IDEA Council, the Physical Science Workplace Life Committee, the IDEA Office, and other interested parties, has successfully partnered with Human Resources to revise and improve the RPM Sick Leave policy to include language that supports sick leave usage parity between mental and physical illness and aims to reduce the stigma of mental illness and disabilities.
Although the Sick Leave policy always implied support for mental health, the revision clarifies the policy, removes ambiguity, and better aligns its language to support definitions in the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Berkeley Lab HR Policy team has suggested a similar change to the UC Systemwide HR Policy group for future revisions of the UC PPSM 2.210: Absence From Work policy.
The following guidelines are provided to support employees and supervisors/managers on how to navigate requests for sick leave:
- Employees requesting sick leave are not required to disclose to their supervisor/manager specific medical information about their illness or condition. This means employees do not have to give details of their medical history, diagnosis, or treatment. Medical information is considered personal and confidential, and an employer must respect an employee’s privacy.
- Supervisors/Managers whose employees are requesting sick leave can only ask for information relevant to an employee’s absence from work, such as the expected duration of absence or their ability to perform their job duties. Supervisors/Managers should consult with their HR Division Partner to determine under which circumstances it may be appropriate to request a note or other proof of inability to work from the employee’s treating health care provider. Supervisors/Managers should also respect an employee’s privacy by not sharing with others any information voluntarily disclosed to them by employees who are taking sick leave or the nature of the employee’s absence.
The following resources are available to employees and supervisors:
- Integrated Disability & Absence Management Services (IDAM)
- Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
- Supervisor Toolkit
- Townhall: A Scientist’s Primer On Mental Health – September 9, 2020
- Basics Of Burnout: Causes And Remedies In A Research Environment – June 22, 2021
- Continuing The Conversation On Burnout: Dos And Don’ts For Supervisors