Another gem has come out of r/Antiwork, the fastest-growing forum on Reddit, this time in the form of an email from a cranky manager angry that an employee went to human resources after said manager tried to make them work with COVID-19 because they were “symptomless.” As anyone who has paid even the slightest bit of attention over the past nearly two years now, people who test positive for COVID-19 but are not experiencing any symptoms, typically called “asymptomatic,” can still spread the virus to others, and are not “basically not sick.”

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This worker wanted to avoid infecting his coworkers with a potentially fatal virus, so instead of coming to work when ordered by the manager, they went to HR to complain. Not only did the worker get his sick leave, but he also got the world’s whiniest email from his boss, complete with paragraphs of demands that the employee never go to HR again lest they once again do their jobs correctly before finally conceding to the department’s decision that the worker needs to stay home.

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Predictably, managers such as this are never happy when their workers go to HR because that usually means they’ve done something wrong and might end up facing consequences for it. Obviously, trying to force someone to work just after they’ve tested positive for COVID-19 is not a good look, and if the name of this Antiwork poster’s company ever got out, it would be the PR team who would be coming down hard on this manager. So it’s no wonder this particular boss tried to convince their worker that the purpose of human resources is not to provide resources to the company’s humans.

Managers like this want you to come to them first before you complain about them to HR so that they can convince you to shut up and put up.

“As a manager, I pride myself on maintaining good bonds and a sense of honesty with my staff and it is saddening that you felt the need to take this matter immediately to HR without discussing it with me first,” says the manager in the screengrabbed email.

Perhaps if a manager would like to maintain good bonds with staff and be seen as honest, they should not falsely claim that being asymptomatic is the same as not being sick at all and not try and expose that staff to a dangerous contagion. But the real red flag here is the next sentence.

“It is important for you to understand that above all else, your main goal (and indeed the main goal for all of us) with [company] should be to be a team player and contribute to the success of the company in whatever way you can.”

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This kind of rhetoric is a big red flashing signal that the manager, and likely the company overall, sees their workers as little more than labor robots who don’t deserve a life outside of work. At the same time, if keeping coworkers from being exposed to a deadly virus does not “contribute to the success of the company,” quit.

The manager continued by laying on a guilt trip, claiming that the worker made things more difficult for his coworkers by staying home, another common tactic of bad managers who don’t care about the health and safety of employees or customers, even outside of a pandemic.

It should also be noted for all readers that dealing with situations like this is exactly the job of the HR department, but this manager seems determined to pretend like they don’t know how anything in the workplace actually works.

“As you know, I have the final say in matters relating to shift patterns and time off, so I’m unclear as to why you have involved [HR] in this at all,” they wrote. “In future, if you have something you need to discuss with regard to time off, you discuss it with me.”

Of course, according to the worker, he did discuss the time off with his manager first but had to go over their head when they made a dangerously incorrect call. If anything, this manager should be grateful they weren’t fired, and the worker should forward this email right back to HR in case of retaliation.

In the end, in spite of all this whining and attempts at intimidation, the manager is forced to acknowledge that the worker will be given the time off requested in the first place, trying to spin it as though it’s their decision rather than that of the HR department. They then have the nerve to demand that the sick worker not email them back because from that point on it’s not appropriate.

“I will finish up by saying that, on HR’s recommendation, I have taken the decision to give you sick leave on this occasion.”

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“Please do not respond to this email – any further discussions about his situation should be over the phone or in person once you are back.”

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*First Published: October 25, 2021, 11:44 am