The firing of an employee who used text messages to call in sick after his brother's death was unfair, an Edinburgh employment tribunal has ruled. An employment law specialist said the case sends a warning to bosses to enforce policies consistently. The East Lothian Courier reports that Mark Morrison worked as a sales adviser …
Required a sickline !
Errr your brother dies and you have to bring in a sick line, hasn't the company ever heard of compassionate leave. I don't think I have ever had an employer as bad as that (and I have had some bad ones.) Though I do have to say that texting in sick is a stupid way of notifying your employers (though you donb't always think straight after a death in the family)
Sounds like (on the longer term) he is better off out of that company.
Maybe I'm being pedantic, but surely a sickline should only be issued when you're medically unfit for work?
Sounds like compassionate leave would have been far more appropriate.
He DID phone in.
I bet the company procedure about phoning in does specify that you must use VOICE. So in what way does sending a text from a mobile not count as "phoning"?
Media or message
I agree with the tribunal's decision, that the employer didn't consitently implement company policies. I'm just wondering whether it's the media rather than the message that counts.
Is there a sort of snobbery going on here, that texting is somehow below other forms of communication. Among the old codgers of the business community, texting has become associated with feckless, lazy teenagers, whereas email, well accepted by business, is widely used. Would emailing in sick be any more or less acceptable than texting? I guess any form of written communication would be a way of avoiding that awkward conversation with the boss where you have to convince them you really are unable to make it in today.
What's sauce for the goose ....
Wasn't there a story about a company sacking staff by text a while back ?
If big business want to create a paradigm shift, then they will have to bend over and take it when the peasants use it in return.
 Got board code-hacking - I want to be a management consultant.
ehrm... English is not my native language. Could someone tell me what a sick line is?
>> I guess any form of written communication would be a way of avoiding that awkward conversation with the boss where you have to convince them you really are unable to make it in today.
Indeed. I used to work somewhere that if you phone in to *inform* them that you are sick and won't be coming to work - you are interrogated for 20 minutes (after you have spent 20 minutes trying to get through to someone) as though you need to ask permission to be ill. Not really what you want when you are ill.
I can't think of any reason why you shouldn't be able to text or email in-sick other than that you can't be sure your message has been received.
BTW, WTF is a sickline? - has El Reg just invented a word?
The true power of BT revealed
If he'd just used BT's Text-To-Speech facility by texting one of their landlines, all this could've been avoided. All hail BT.
How do you phone in if you've lost your voice as part of your illness? Surely there has to be some non verbal method....
coat -> door -> taxi
Eh? What's that then?
''medically unfit for work''
Depression is unfit, you may suddenly decide to kill the boss, or more unfortunately for the company, customers..........
'sickline'' WTF is a sickline? I only know of a sicknote, I had my first ever only this year for bells palsy, as a driver dealing with passengers, if any had made amusement at my illness, I may had ''damaged'' them, hence best off work even though not affecting my ability to drive etc, its not all just about physical ability.
This is a note from the doctor to say why you were unwell and to prove that the time off was genuine. Sicklines can be "X has Y and needs Z time off" or words to that effect.
Personally I've never needed one as I prefer to bring my snottering into work and spread the fun around!
Maybe it's a line of sick, sort of rawshank-folded onto a piece of paper and then put in the post to employer/agency.
On the subject of calling in sick last time I phoned in to my agency they asked me when I thought I'd be back at work. I said "don't know as I am ill and not presently improving". The woman on the other end just couldn't understand that I didn't know when I'd be better. I'd been chucking up on and off for a weekend and on monday felt no better. Surely knowing when you'll be back at work kind of implies you either a) get the same illness regularly, or b) are making it up to have a few days off. Gits.
I really feel for this guy, i lost my brother 5+ years ago and had similar problems with employers, i lost one job for not being responsive enough in the work place. i was personally out of action for a good 12 - 18 months after and was a mess mentally, shock like this can and does have a profound effect on the ability to cope.
I don't know how or why companies feel you can get over the trauma of losing such a close family member in a short period of time, to put on that sales face as if nothing had happened and then to penalise a depressed guy for not being able to face the usual rubbish of dealing with john q public, who on a good day in sales make you feel like you have to pucker up and kiss butt to get a sale, or on a bad day just want to complain about there order of tiles being late.
There is no such thing in this country as compassionate leave any more, companies just want their pound of flesh while they are paying you and if you become unable to cope then you get axed for one or more trivial reasons like this, where it was obvious to the company he was going to have problems for quite some time to come and they acted to get rid of him as soon as possible.
This happens to people all over the country everyday, its not fair its not legal and its not right, stick up for your rights and take these companies to tribunal we have working rights here for a reason.
Lastly Mark Morrison if you are reading this, i wish you all the best of luck in the future, i can only suggest to contact http://www.mind.org.uk/ for any help they maybe able to give you, if you need it. Take care and be well.
Sickline to Tony
A sickline, I think, is mainly a Scottish-ism. As an ex-pat of Edinburgh I heard it used a lot, but never south of the border.
Readers in Edinburgh will be shocked to hear that Tony of Tile It All could possibly be so callous!
Sicklines and Voice
@ Steve Taylor - I'll bet quite a bit of money that 'voice' is not strictly specified in the policy handbook.
As for 'sickline', it is as Ross has said, but it's also very popular in Northern Ireland, where it's often shortened to just 'getting a line'.
text works fine... but
Texting in sick is alright... for me anyway. If I can't get hold of my supervisor by mobile or office phone, I leave a voice message and just let him know by text whats going on.
To be fair though, I wouldnt do it several weeks in a row... and I at least try to ring first. My company is fairly relaxed though... but this has got me wondering now! :S
RE: What's sauce for the goose ....
"  Got board code-hacking (???) - I want to be a management consultant. "
If you want to be a management consultant, I suggest you learn how to use the correct word in the correct context. Surely your use of the word "board" is incorrect? Shouldn't it have been "bored", as in "grown weary of..." ?
You are an ex-pat of Edinburgh are you, person formerly known as Patrick ?
Are you also an expat(riate) ?
between a code grinder and a management consultant is you can fake being a management consultant and no one will ever know. I would prefer they text in sick I hate talking to the supposedly sick you can't really blame them, but it's hard to be nice, knowing your work load just doubled.
@Mark re Lost Voice
"How do you phone in if you've lost your voice as part of your illness?"
A good question. Having been in exactly this situation twice, and before email was common, it is no fun at all to be trying to shout down the phone so enough high frequency harmonics can get through so that the bean counter on the other endcan hear you when you have laryngitis.
Now I just email. It's much easier.
re: lost voice
Depends on the company - the bigger they are, the more rigidly they adhere to policies that really need a bit of leeway and common sense.
Phone in for sickness - lost voice and I worked phones in a call centre so without a voice, couldn't work. Mum phoned in for me. They insisted on speaking to me directly, even though all I could do was faintly squeak.
Notice in writing (not email) if absence is longer than 3 days. My friend's hand was crushed. His notice was then rejected because his (left-handed) signature on the letter was nothing like his usual (right-handed) signature. That was local govt.
The winner was the Dept of Work and Pensions. A friend was in a car crash and broke her spine. Had to spend 6 weeks flat on her back. DWP said she had to come in to their offices for an assessment. When she said she couldn't come in because she couldn't even sit upright in a taxi, they stopped her sick pay because she had "refused" to comply.
Anonymous Coward wrote: "[A sickline] is a note from the doctor to say why you were unwell and to prove that the time off was genuine. Sicklines can be "X has Y and needs Z time off" or words to that effect."
In all my years working, whenever my doctor wrote a medical certification to my employer, he refrained from specifying "Y" on the grounds of confidentiality of medical records and the privileged nature of the doctor-patient relationship.
The beancounters were, of course, hostile to this, but had to swallow it as "the rules" failed to specify the precise content of a medical certificate.
What I found most interesting was the beancounters' veiled implication "you're just in cahoots with your doctor to get some extra vacation time'. This blithely ignored that MDs (at least here in Canada) are members of professional colleges and required to be honest.
It also revealed that the beancounters, in the classical manner of a thief assuming everyone else is a thief, were themselves devoid of honesty and ethics.
I wonder if his boss sent him a classic "your fired" via text message in return....
>> Depression is unfit, you may suddenly decide to kill the boss
Jeeze, last time I checked it was called heathy grieving and seemed to be a widely accepted side effect of death of a close one. It's really not useful to label grief and it's associated feelings as a sickness.
You just don't know what the relationship of the person with his firm or how competent his manager was at dealing with someone who couldn't work. (especially in a small company where absent individials impact the business in a big way).
Who knows. The guy might have been usless at his job. But he lost his brother an his job at the same time which sucks.
Maybe you can clear something up for me.
How would I describe a former native of the island of Crete?
I think this is what we call a "doctor's certificate" or a "medical certificate" in Australia.
The problem with texting in, or emailing in, is that there is no garuntee that the message has been recieved... and that risks an apprent AWOL being noted....
I do agree with the decission though, it's ok one week then not the next. So they might have not liked him or though he was swinging the lead. They still set themselves up for a trip to court...