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HR should know: 3 things to always share

(MoneyWatch) Just like there are some things you should never share with HR, there are some you should report. "In today's transparent technology environments what we do or say is more challenging to keep private and there are areas in our lives that we do not want to share with HR. However, there are things we do want to share because in some cases HR can be there to protect you and be an advocate for you," says Jayne Mattson, Senior Vice President, Keystone Associates, a Boston-based career consulting firm. Of course, only you can know what's right for your situation, but there are some general guidelines. Here are 3 things to consider disclosing:

If a family member dies.

You may not have to take a PTO or a sick day if a member of your family passes, if you inform your HR rep. "Bereavement or funeral leave is paid leave for an employee to attend the funeral of a family member and/or attend estate-related activities of a deceased family member," says Washington, D.C.-based human resources consultant Sharon Armstrong, author of "The Essential HR Handbook."

If you witness a violation of HR policy.

Whether you're being sexually harassed, you witness co-workers threatening each other or you discover your boss skimming company funds, HR can help -- if you let them. "Human Resources cannot do anything about a co-worker or manager behaving inappropriately if they are not made aware of an unsafe or unhealthy situation. An employee violating a safety rule not only puts himself or herself at risk of injury, but also the company as a whole with unnecessary cost and damaged reputation," says Kelly Walls, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, for the Kansas City-based shipping company YRC Freight.

If you're experiencing a serious health issue.

You don't have to discuss personal medical issues with HR, but it can be crucial if your work is being affected, you need special accommodation, or easy changes can be made to keep you healthier. "A medical condition, food allergies, undergoing certain medical treatments such as chemo, or dialysis, taking medications that could affect your balance or judgment -- these are examples of health issues to share with HR. Your employer can, for example, avoid all nuts at company functions or have EpiPens and instructions on how to use them in the office," says Michelle D. Roccia, Executive Vice President, Employee Engagement at WinterWyman, a Boston-based staffing firm.

Not sure whether to seek out HR's help? "Always trust your gut when the ethical meter registers something is off," suggests Judy Shen-Filerman, founder of Dreambridge Partners, a Boston-based leadership development firm. If you need an outside opinion, choose a trusted peer -- preferably someone who is not associated with your company. 

HR professionals: What else do you recommend employees disclose? Employees: Have you ever regretted disclosing information to HR? Please sign in and share in the comments section.