16 Things You Should Never Tell Your HR Department

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Your human resources department may be a good place to discuss workplace issues, but there are some things you shouldn’t disclose to HR.
Updated April 3, 2023
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You may have found the perfect job that suits your talents and interests. But if you want to keep your job and avoid money stress, there are things you need to keep to yourself.

Human resources can be a great asset at your company, but the department’s interests are sometimes with the company and not you.

If you’re worried about oversharing with the HR department, here are some things you should keep to yourself.

You have a second job

pikselstock/Adobe woman using digital tablet in coffee shop

Sometimes you might get a second job or pursue a side hustle as a way to make extra money. HR may see this as a sign that you’re not committed to the company and could use it as a reason to push you aside or get rid of you.

Remember that any work you do to make money that’s outside of your work hours doesn’t need to be shared with HR.

Political views

Christine Glade/Adobe young first time voter female peeling I voted sticker

Politics can be a hot topic in an office, and your beliefs and comments may not be welcomed by co-workers. You also may come under extra scrutiny if you’re trying to raise money for a candidate or policy in your office. It might even be against HR policy.

Religious beliefs

motortion/Adobe man praying before lunch thanking God for meal

Another topic that could cause co-workers and HR to be uncomfortable is religion.

While you cannot be discriminated against based on your religious beliefs, you could cause issues by talking to HR or your co-workers in a way that could be seen as promoting your beliefs.

Your personal life

silverkblack/Adobe young couple quarrels in the kitchen at home

There are some things you should discuss with HR when it comes to family leave to care for a newborn or a sick family member. But you may not want to overshare issues you’re dealing with at home.

Pro tip: Major life events like marriage, divorce, births, or deaths can affect some employment benefits like health insurance. In those cases, it may be a good idea to check in with your insurance provider directly before getting HR involved.

Your partner’s employment

Liubomir/Adobe man and the pregnant woman received a letter

Human resources do not need to know where your partner or spouse is employed or how much they make. HR may use that information to justify paying you less money, moving or eliminating your position, or giving you too many or too few hours.

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Co-workers’ love lives

Mangostar/Adobe two male friends drinking coffee and talking in an outdoor cafe

Around 20% of marriages in the U.S. started with couples meeting at work, but co-workers’ relationships are not something you should share with your HR department.

Instead, let your co-workers deal with disclosing the relationship to HR in accordance with your company’s guidelines.

What you do after hours

Monkey Business/Adobe group of middle aged friends celebrating birthday in bar

You don’t need to talk to HR about what you do when you’re off the clock. You have a right to go to bars and have drinks with friends or participate in activities that co-workers may deem scandalous.

What you do with your private time is private and doesn’t need to be disclosed to HR.

Health issues

rocketclips/Adobe senior patient seated on medical chair while explaining to doctor her health concern

You may think HR needs to be aware of any of your health issues if your health insurance is provided by the company. They don’t. Discuss health issues with your doctors and any insurance coverage or claims should go directly through your insurer.

There are some health issues that may need more attention. In those cases, try to limit your discussion with HR to issues like medical leave or paid time off.

Lawsuits with previous employers

wutzkoh/Adobe lawyer explained to the client about the legal issues

There are legitimate reasons to sue a previous employer such as breach of contract or discrimination. But suing an employer could also be a red flag for your current human resources department.

Don’t mention any litigation you may have pending with previous employers or lawsuits you filed that have concluded.

You may not come back after time off

PR Image Factory/Adobe office worker writing resignation letter

Life events such as a birth or death of a loved one can affect your current employment. Taking time off from work to spend with your family may cause you to reevaluate your career or your particular job, but you shouldn’t mention it to HR until you’re ready to pack up.

If you tell HR you’re considering quitting, you could get back to the office in a role or position you didn’t expect.

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Fake qualifications

None

Your resume is a good reflection of your experience that can help HR get a better idea of your qualifications for a job. Don’t lie on your resume with fabrications about where you worked or your previous experience.

Your deceit will be discovered either before or after you get hired, which could hurt your reputation in the industry.

You’re looking for a new job

djrandco/Adobe woman candidate at a job interview

More Americans have been switching jobs and companies in the past year as part of the Great Resignation. Perhaps you’re looking for a position with better pay or work-from-home benefits.

While it’s important for you to find the best fit for your career, you don’t need to let HR know you’re looking for a new position. Instead, wait to inform them until after you’ve been offered a new job.

Long-term career goals

wavebreak3/Adobe  businessman looking at strategy written on glass

Perhaps you view your current company as a stepping stone to a long-term goal of working for a larger company or living in a different city. It’s OK to keep that to yourself and not share your future plans with HR.

You don’t want to give them an excuse to lay you off or cut your position because they know you want to be somewhere else in the future.

Relocation plans

peopleimages.com/Adobe couple moving into a new modern house

You may have a dream of living in a different city someday or your partner or spouse is interviewing for a position in another state. Keep your goals or ambitions of relocating to yourself until you have concrete plans to pack up and move.

Retirement plans

WavebreakmediaMicro/Adobe Senior couple planning their investments with financial advisor

There are parts of your retirement plan that are personal such as long-term goals about when you plan to retire or where you plan to go. You don’t need to disclose those to HR.

Remember that while you may have retirement benefits such as a 401(k) through your employer, it’s best to talk with a financial advisor or a representative from the firm that holds your 401(k) about your retirement accounts.

Can you retire early? Take this quiz and find out.

Your finances

Natee Meepian/Adobe cheerful young female sitting at desk with calculator and laptop

You may have just inherited money from a family member or you’ve achieved a big financial milestone like paying off your mortgage.

While you may be reaching your financial goals or have some new money in your financial accounts, that’s not something you need to share with your human resources department.

Bottom line

bnenin/Adobe  smiling businesswoman talking to a client

Human resources can be helpful for any number of issues involved with your employment. Just be careful discussing your professional and personal life with HR — especially if you’re looking for ways to stop living paycheck to paycheck.

Consider your conversation with an HR representative carefully and think about what you want and don’t want to say when you talk to them.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.

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