Backchat | Fired... for replying to the boss with an emoji

Fired... for replying to the boss with an emoji

There are a number of valid reasons an employee may be fired; they may falsify company records or be found in possession of drugs at work.

However, one worker in South China has been removed from their post after replying to their manager’s message with an OK emoji, reports the Daily Mail.

The employee who works at a bar in Changsha, Hunan province, was asked by her boss to send over some documents using the messaging app, WeChat.

She responded to her boss’ request with the OK emoji, to signify she understood and would deliver the demand. However, the manager accused her of ‘poor discipline’ and decided to terminate her employment.

In the chat, her boss wrote: "You should type out 'received' if you have received my message. Is this your way of confirming receipt?"

After a few minutes passed, the manager asked the employee to contact HR so she could arrange her resignation.

Screenshots have since gone viral on social media after the employee uploaded the images to microblogging site Weibo, which has since garnered more than 280 million views on the topic page.

“It's true. My resignation is still being processed,” the employee told Btime.

“I have been working for many years and this is my first time encountering a stupid situation like this.

“I am a good-tempered person and therefore didn't lose my temper then. All my colleagues agreed that my boss had gone too far.”

The boss has since informed all employees to reply to the chat with the word ‘Roger’ when acknowledging receipt of a request.

In this instance it seems the dismissal could be deemed unfair and an extreme case, whereby the manager is exerting their power. But what can employees do if they feel they have been treated unfairly?

According to Citizens Advice, there are a few things workers can do to check if their dismissal is unfair:

  • Check what your ‘employment status’ is – your rights depend on whether you’re an employee or not.

  • Find out how long you’ve worked for your employer – you can usually only challenge a dismissal if you've worked there two years or more.

  • Check whether the law says the reason for your dismissal is unfair.

It may also be worth checking the employee handbook thoroughly, to see if there are any details regarding the usage of work messaging apps.

Should messaging apps be used in the workplace?

In 2017, a study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development surveyed practitioners on the use of WhatsApp at work, and 40% said the app undermined corporate culture.

WhatsApp, the UK equivalent of WeChat, is often used among employees and their bosses to help improve communication, however, the app is used in a more conversational, informal manner. Therefore, managers should consider introducing the app to their team without rules and regulations laid out, so users are not offended.

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Comments (4)

  • Andrea
    Fri, 3 Jan 2020 10:13pm GMT
    Looks like Chinese companies follow American system -fire on spot.
    Steven, you are writing about robust UK leg. system. I respect some employment laws in the UK. However, working on various multicultural jobs abroad your law and values are too soft and being exploited by lazy employees who go on sick leave whenever they want, if annual leave is not approved or employee accrued sickness entitlement and most of them think they can use it as annual leave. I think the payment for this type of leave needs to be reduced to encourage people to come to work without slacking. Contractors in the UK are treated poorly by private companies at least in comparison to other developed countries. They are hourly rates average, extensions of contracts are shot, therefore creates lots of living and rentals issues for people. Contractors are not entitled to bonuses or promotion for permanent positions in multicultural Chinese driven telecompanies in the UK! This is illegal but quietly driven and quietly supported by UK management, budgets are managed by headquarters in China. You have loads of employment issues here. I have been here only 5 years and it is funny how people do this and not held responsible for their behaviors. May be because of English politeness? The amount of so called pretending “mental health” employees you have here is ridiculous. Some businesses have to keep up with this for 2 years even if all OH support was provided. They just frightened legal actions, employees avoid meetings but GP continue provide stress sick notes.. I think in this country it be some to easy to get sick note and label mental health to claim all possible and impossible entitlements and avoid responsibilities!
  • Steven
    Wed, 1 Jan 2020 8:34am GMT
    I am particularly concerned about the part of the story where "the manager asked the employee to contact HR so she could arrange her resignation". If I read this correctly, the employee was not "fired", but rather bullied into quitting, a very different proposition. Not only does it insulate the manager in question from accusations of over-zealous disciplinary actions (“No, I didn’t fire her, she quit”), but also exacerbates the distress to the fired employee, in that they have to organise their own firing.

    Of course, this was in a very different country to the UK, and something tells me that Chinese employment laws are nowhere near as robust as anything we are used to. I would hope that here in the UK, if any manager attempted such an obvious act of malice, the employee would tell them to go through the correct channels for firing a member of staff, and this would then put the pressure back onto the manager to explain his decision to HR and higher management.
  • Humans Being
    Humans Being
    Mon, 1 Jul 2019 1:11pm BST
    So an emoji response to an out of hours conversation on a non-work based system isn't professional (someone needs to tell Facebook!) and the manager was expecting a message saying "Received" but has subsequently spoken to the staff and suggested "Roger" in now the required response. #Toxicworkplace

    Technically, "Roger" means "I have received but not necessarily understood your message" *Laughing Emoji*
  • Boris
    Wed, 19 Jun 2019 1:03pm BST
    So an emoji is unprofessional but saying "roger" isn't? I would dispute this on the basis of using a non-work based system to communicate. If the rules, stupid as they are, weren't made clear to all employees to begin with the employer shouldn't really have a leg to stand on.

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