25 things you should NEVER say to your employer…

Having your own business is stressful enough without employees who are not assisting in making the business work efficiently. According to the Labour Code No.37/2006 (and amendments), section 133, an employer can terminate an employee immediately for serious misconduct. As an attorney, the writer deals with many labour disputes and labour issues between employers and employees. Communication is key to all relationships; personal and professional. What you say and how you say it, are equally important. Here are some things you should never say to your employer if you want to keep your job.

1. “No problem.” If your employer shows appreciation for a task that you have completed very well by saying “Thank you”. The appropriate response is “You’re welcome” and not “No problem”. No problem conveys that there was a difficulty in doing the task requested but you tried to complete it. It has a negative connotation that you do not want to relay to your boss.

2. “I didn’t make that call yet because I was on my lunch break.” Employers are looking for team members who will go above and beyond their calls of duty to do certain tasks without complaint. This comment conveys a disrespectful attitude because you are basically stating to your boss that whatever he or she requested was not important and disruptive to your lunch break. Consider this: your boss is aware that you are on your lunch hour, and will only ask you to do tasks that are urgent and very important. Therefore, taking the occasional shorter lunch break to assist works well with your boss who will remember when you need time off to take care of a personal matter.

3. “I don’t have time for this right now.” Your role is essentially to assist your boss in some capacity, and make his or her life a lot easier. With this attitude, the suggestion is negative and conveys a lack of commitment on your part. If you truly have a lot of other tasks to complete which are time sensitive then say so, so that tasks can be prioritised either by you or your boss.

4. “Your brother never liked me”. What does this have to do with your job? Never bring up family members in a negative way. It is a recipe for disaster.

5. “If my exams are in the third week of September and I have already taken my annual leave, I will write my exams.” Your employer is NOT required to give you time off to sit any exams, so stating that you will take time off for any reason without permission or as agreed is highly disrespectful and are grounds for dismissal.

6. “I missed your call because my phone was at the bottom of my bag.” If your boss is trying to reach you during the day and you miss the call, during work hour, this conveys a lack of concern for the reason for the communication. Even if this was true, if you were expecting the call, this is a poor excuse to miss the call, so just skip it!

7. “I have a doctor’s appointment at 11am tomorrow so I will come in after that.”
Your employer is NOT required to give you time off to see a doctor unless the proper office procedure is followed. Asserting that you will be going to the doctor without expressly asking for the time off is plain RUDE!

8. “I won’t be at work tomorrow because I have a funeral to attend.”
Culturally, employers in Saint Lucia tend to be empathic about giving employees time off to attend the funeral of a close member of the family or friend. However, you still need to formally request the morning or afternoon off depending on when the funeral is scheduled.

9. “I wasn’t watching music videos during office hours, I was only listening to music on your computer.”
Do you really want to admit to your boss that instead of WORKING you were listening to music? Unacceptable!

10. “I told that client to p*** off because I didn’t like his attitude.”
Summary dismissal in accordance with the Labour Code is actionable here. Being rude to a client or customer at the workplace is one of the grounds for instant and automatic dismissal. This is serious misconduct. It reflects badly on the company and the employer to have an employee who swears at clients.

11. “I can wear my hair any way I like, and you can’t stop me.”
Your employer must follow the guidelines as set in the Labour Code of Saint Lucia. Further, your employer may have specific rules and regulations which govern his or her business. As long as the said regulations are not in conflict with the labour laws, he or she has the discretion to set them. The Labour Code is silent on hairstyles. Therefore, if your employer is unhappy with your attire, hairstyle etc., he or she can invite you to leave if it is not in keeping with the prescribed rules of the workplace.

12. “My boyfriend visits me at the office all the time but we don’t do anything inappropriate while you are out.”
This is an inappropriate response and could lead to suspension or dismissal.

13. “Can I get paid earlier, I need to pay my phone bill?”
Requesting an advance on your salary is a request that your employer does not have to honour. Depending on your relationship with your employer, for example, you have been working with your employer for many years and have a very good relationship, your employer may assist you but this is at the employer’s discretion.

14. “I don’t know.”
NEVER say you do not know what happened, where something is and the like. It shows a lack of interest and knowledge and could lead to your working somewhere else.

15. “How do I benefit from doing this?”
An employee who actually says these words to an employer requesting a legitimate task which forms part of your job, clearly wants to leave his or her current employment.

16. “It is a little slow today, can I leave early?”
There is ALWAYS work to be done! If your employer suggests leaving early for a special occasion such as Christmas or your birthday that is one thing but on an ordinary day for you to ask to leave early under such circumstances suggests a lack of interest in the job and the success of the business.

17. “I don’t have a solution.”
If you do not have the solution – find it! Do not simply admit to your employer how useless you are. Show your boss how resourceful you are by finding a solution to even the most difficult of tasks.

18. “I’m pretty busy right now, can this wait?”
If you really are too busy with work already set by your boss and will not be able to manage more tasks. Indicate this politely to him or her. Prioritise your work and get assistance from other employees if necessary, but just get it done!

19. “At my last job we did it this way.”
Your boss’s response may be, then why don’t you go back to work there? NEVER compare your current workplace to a previous one especially if you are putting down where you work now. That is always a recipe for disaster.

20. “I just assumed that he was coming back.”
If a client turns up and pay an outstanding bill and you don’t write him a receipt, this could be a problem. Even if the client says he is in a hurry and you can give it to him the next time. Write the receipt and hand it to him, don’t assume he will return because he may not.

21. “This isn’t in my job description.”
Your employer is aware of what is and what isn’t in your job description. If the task falls slightly out of your job description, as long as it isn’t anything illegal or immoral, you should try to accommodate your boss.

22. “I don’t get paid enough to do this.”
Your boss may respond, then why don’t you leave and get a job that pays you better.

23. “I have a cold, I can barely function but I came to work anyway.”
Should your employer be grateful for your dedication or your sarcasm? If you are ill, stay home and apply for sick leave. If you are at work, don’t complain!

24. “I’ve never had a boss as smart as me.”
So you are calling your boss stupid and every boss you have had before stupid as well. Let’s just say you are walking a fine line between leaving immediately and leaving in the next ten minutes. It is rude and disrespectful.

25. “Do I have to finish this task today?”
Your employer is likely to say the affirmative and formulate a negative impression of you as a result. If the task is handed to you in the morning, it is likely expected to be completed the same day unless otherwise stated. Do your best!


This article is for general use only, for advice specifically for your case, please see your lawyer.

Share your thoughts and comments: you are invited to email me at trudyoglasgow@lawyer.com

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