Absence: When is a “reasonable” excuse unacceptable?

Mechanic Grade II George Melrose was a chronic absentee. He often failed to call in when he was out. Or he offered "personal business" as an excuse.
By Raymond Dreyfack July 1, 1998

Mechanic Grade II George Melrose was a chronic absentee. He often failed to call in when he was out. Or he offered “personal business” as an excuse.

Maintenance Foreman Steve Conn called him to account repeatedly, and had posted several warning slips to his file.

“I already gave you one last chance too many,” Conn finally said. “One more time and you’re gone.”

And no great loss, he thought. As a performer Melrose was a shade short of mediocre. When Melrose promised to reform, Conn said, “We’ll see.”

That didn’t take long. A month later Melrose was out three days without calling in. When he clocked in the fourth day his time card was missing from the rack.

“Someone screwed up,” he told Conn, “my card’s not in the rack.”

“That’s right, George. Someone did screw up. The someone is you. Out three days, without a call-in. This is it. Personnel has your final pay.”

Melrose hesitated, then said, “I didn’t call in because I was embarrassed. It was a very personal situation. Marge and I are splitting up.”

“I’m sorry to hear that, George. But this has been going on for months. The termination stands.”

“Hey, give me a break. You can’t hit a man when he’s down.”

Question : Should Melrose be given yet another final chance?

Berner’s verdict: “I feel for the guy as you do,” Plant Engineer Frank Berner told Conn. “But we have to consider all aspects of this case. Melrose is a chronic absentee who failed to shape up despite your having bent over backwards to allow him to do so. On top of that, he has an attitude problem and his work record is poor. Even if his marital problem necessitated his absence, the least he could have done was call in. The man’s an obvious loser, and I don’t think his loss should be at the company’s expense. The dismissal stands.”