Fire Him Or Not?

You make the call.

A tech calls in sick on the day an important job, that he is the lead on, needs to be closed out.

Next day, you find out the 'sick' tech went to the client's grand opening party that same night.

What should you do?

Does he have a doctors note? If so, no action. If not, has he ever done anything like this before? If not, a verbal warning should be sufficient. If he has gotten several verbal warnings (the exact amount differing according to the seriousness and frequency of the incidents), give a written warning, and possibly suspension. After one or two written warnings and suspensions, you can safely fire the tech.

Two reprimands are in order.

One for the tech for attending the party, one for me for not.

To me, firing someone is the 'nuclear option'. It has a place, but it is an absolute answer to what might be a temporary issue.

On personnel issues, context is always important. Is the employee a continual screw-up? Are they 'cancer in the clubhouse'? Are they just a bad cultural (business culture) fit?

If so, end things when the opportunity for a clean break is there. (Obvious misconduct, end of project)

If not, then people management kicks in. Dock pay, suspend, demote, run laps, whatever. Manage the misconduct if it is worth the effort.

Do you have the account in the first place because of this person? Did the customer have a problem with it not closing? If he's just the lead, and not the generator- and it will count against the company for not closing with the client because he was not there- thats not going to look good at all- and he should know this. The only saving issue is if he really was incapacitatedly, explainably ill.

This happened to me, though at a tradeshow. My tech expert for the product had been out partying and was a no show.

I attributed it to youth and somehow got around it.

On it's own, didn't feel it justified firing.

Definitely merits a conversation.

Firing for me would require more information, background, previous behavior etc.

I would think the client might have had some objection to this scenario though unless someone else finished/closed for the tech in question.

A little more color:

  • No doctor's note
  • History of not caring / taking the job seriously
  • Obviously was not extremely ill since at 6pm he was there at the party

This is an old case from my integrator days but someone reminded me of it.

It's really important that people take their jobs seriously...

Then I would probably fire him.

I actually had a similar case that ended in me firing a tech. He was good when he was on, but part of the job was after-hours on call support, which he failed at several times. The final one was taking a road trip over a long holiday weekend and leaving his laptop at home, rendering him unable to assist with a critical customer.

'History of not caring' in and of itself demands replacement, and

Getting caught calling in sick when not sick is one thing but, calling in sick and then intentionally going to a place where you will be seen by co-workers shows either

  1. Brazen disrespect for authority
  2. Limited intelligence
  3. 2+1

So you must act decisively, or the whole shop will suffer.

P.S. If you actually were the axman in this case, I didn't mean to imply you should be reprimanded in my first post, I though it was a pure hypothetical.

Bringing a doctor's note when you're sick is quite a paradox. Some technicians that had worked for me used to say: - If I was feeling well enough to take my car, drive to a doctor's office, I would had come to work instead...

And I had to agree with them. Sometimes you're so sick that you can't even leave your bed.

Therefore, I preferred to trust on them when they said they were sick. But, if after I found out that it was a lie, the guy was immediatelly fired.

And I always put these conditions very clearly to everyone: There is no need of a note because I trust on you. Until I'm not...

In that especific case you'd mentioned, no doubt I would fire him as there is a historic before and mainly for his dumbness: In the day he played sick he went to a party in a client? Where everybody would know he was there? He deserved to be fired!

It really depends on the technician and what your relationship is.

The Fact that he lied cast doubt on Trust and reliability

I would start grooming a paralell for possible replacement.

I would suspend for a couple of days with out pay , But be carefull not to violate your written policys and give him a letter of discipline. Set policy for the 3 striked your out policy so you have some grip on the situation.