You are NOT going to believe the lengths that this employee went to avoid being sacked for non performance.
He was employed last September in a sales role in a recruitment company.
The company have really good sales software, so they could track what he was doing, and how many placements he was making.
Unfortunately for the employee (let’s call him Bob), the answers to those two things were “not very much” and “none”.
They had a monthly review process in place, and each month they emphasised how important making sales was – it was made very clear that if he did not make a placement at least worth £4,500, then he would be out at the end of 3 months.
His boss scheduled the 3 month review meeting, knowing that no placement had been made.
Bob knew it too, although he did have something in the pipeline that could have been worth £6,000 in a couple of months.
So, rather than taking it on the chin, or working desperately hard to get a sale over the line, he used one of the dirtiest tactics I have ever seen – he said he had cancer.
Having no choice but to take Bob on face value, his boss correctly didn’t go ahead with firing him, instead giving him until the end of January.
What he did suggest was that Bob worked shorter days while he was having treatment, but Bob refused, saying that working was the only thing that gave him hope, and he didn’t want to work less hours.
In those circumstances, the boss felt he had no option but to accept it.
The £6,000 Bob was supposed to be bringing in was apparently due to arrive on Jan 2nd, but the candidate he was supposedly placing had to go to India as his grandfather was dying, and then died, meaning he was away for the whole month.
Beginning of February, there was still no placement, no returning candidate and no other placements in the pipeline.
So ,the boss spoke to Bob, who works remotely, and said that he was going to reduce his days to 2 days a week from 3 until the cancer treatment is over. Bob agreed, and another consultant started ringing clients to explain that she was now looking after the account.
And that’s when it all went up in flames.
The companies that Bob had said were clients did exist, but they had never heard from Bob.
They weren’t clients of the business; the contact names that he had put in the system were not employees of the “client” companies; they had never given him jobs to fill.
He had made it ALL up, including the placement of the candidate who then had to go to India.
No candidate existed: they sent an email which came back as undeliverable and the mobile number was not assigned.
They tried to contact Bob to discuss this with him. He did not pick up calls, so they sent him text messages and emails, asking him to contact them about some anomalies.
Nothing. Absolute radio silence. He has now been fired for gross misconduct.
Bob spent so much effort on his lies to pretend that he was working hard, rather than just actually working hard.
We have had several instances of women claiming they were pregnant to avoid dismissal, but cancer is a new one and can be used by both genders.
It is so frustrating and sad that Bob used cancer in this way, as we now will always have the thought when anyone informs us of their diagnosis, that we need to see proof of it being genuine.
I have seen American TV series where a wife or husband claims to have cancer to stop their partner leaving them “how could you leave me to handle cancer alone?” but not in a work context.
What can YOU do and stay fair, reasonable and legal?
You are allowed, and it is in fact recommended, for you to ask for permission to get more information from their GP/consultant.
You have a duty of care as the employer to make sure that you are making all the reasonable adjustments required under law.
If they refuse to give you permission, they are allowed to, but it does undermine any statements they make about the genuine nature of their diagnosis. Employees with genuine illnesses have never refused to give us permission to get more medical information so we can help them.
Please note – getting permission is a formal letter, advising them of their rights, not just a verbal question.
If you have any concerns about the genuine nature of your employee’s illness, please give me a call on 01491 598 600.