Apple must disclose whether CEO Steve Jobs has had a liver transplant if he returns to work this month in the role of chief executive officer, corporate governance experts have said.
Charles Elson, director of the John L. Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware told Bloomberg: "While Apple's directors don't need to give updates on Jobs's health while he is on leave, that could change if he comes back as CEO."
[ Related: Apple's CEO Steve Jobs had a liver transplant two months ago but reportedly plans to return to work this month. | Keep up on the day's tech news headlines with InfoWorld's Today's Headlines: First Look newsletter and InfoWorld Daily podcast. ]
Elson added: "In the interests of transparency, I think it would be necessary for them to disclose something as serious as a liver transplant. Investors want to know if he's healthy and if he can continue to run the company."
Nell Minow, co-founder of The Corporate Library explained that while the U.S. has strict medical privacy laws, Jobs's CEO role and the investors' view that he is Apple's chief product visionary may trump his right to privacy.
"The CEO of a public company cannot have the luxury of privacy about significant medical matters, especially when he is a central part of the company's brand and a core asset," Minow said.
The question of Jobs ability to run the company may not prove to be so significant as the company has continued to function well in his absence, according to John Dienhart, who holds the Frank Shrontz Chair for Professional Ethics at Seattle University.
Dienhart added that the board may "be getting it right because the company is in good shape, they're not giving messages that he's peachy keen or coming back full time. If people were worried about Apple's team and they weren't meeting expectations or the products weren't as good as they were promoted to be, then Jobs's health becomes more important from an investor point of view."