Last Thursday was “A Day Without Immigrants”, and in solidarity, numerous cities across the country were the stage for protests. walkouts, closed businesses and days missed from school. While on the surface, this protest like others, served as an opportunity for many to express their right to march and protest against potential legislation that may possibly threaten their rights, as legal immigrants to this country. However, there was also a great deal of backlash that occurred as a result – not just for the employers who had absent staff, but for the employees themselves, who may have violated company policy. What do I mean? Let me explain.
An HR colleague of mine contacted me asking for some advice on how a client of hers could discipline an employee who used unauthorized time off to attend a local protest. And they didn’t just “take off” unauthorized time, they literally walked off of the job without following some internal company policies that were in place. While the company does not have a specific policy around attending protests, marches, etc., they DO have a policy of how paid time off is to be requested and the proper way to request it’s use. The employee, who had reported to work, decided to walk out and join the protest which violated the company’s policy on providing advanced notice of leave and getting it approved prior to its use. The question? Can the company reprimand the employee? The answer? YES. The company disciplined the employee for not following the time off request policy and required the employee to take leave without pay.
Some other employees were not as fortunate – several companies across the country terminated employees for not reporting to work. Other companies, like this restaurant, set out show their patrons the importance of immigrants to their establishments.
The lesson? For companies – be sure to review your company policies regularly and be prepared to communicate specific ones in the event you believe your workforce may be affected by events requiring use of leave/time off. If you don’t have specific policies around use of leave and treatment of leave that is taken without notice, GET A POLICY IN PLACE! For employees – be sure to read and understand your company’s policies as it relates to your responsibilities regarding time off and notice of the same.
Don’t get caught without proper policies in place. Engage an HR expert to help you “EmbraceHR” TODAY!