I am working in a Software corporate company. The HR working in this company introduces a new policy that every employee, whether they are availing a planned leave or unplanned leave (including emergency leaves too) should get permission from the manager (which is ok) and also have to inform the HR in a whatsapp group where my software domain team in it including the HR.

This looks looks like a childish kind of act, until when an employee in our company have to attend some very serious emergency and there is no way that the employee could be able to inform to anyone at that situation. Later that day the HR posted in the group mentioning the name of the employee saying "You must take leaves only with a permission even if it is an emergency".

My real question here is "Is this normal to ask an employee to do like this"

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    Can you add a geo-tag? In some countries "Emergency leave" is defenied in labour laws. Also it might be a breach of privacy to post such informations in groups. Nov 6 '19 at 8:16
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    @Naveen, Yes, HR people make unreasonable requests all the time. Now, if you're in a car accident, or are having a heart attack, I'm pretty sure that this is not going to be an issue once you make people know what happened. So don't worry. And don't take things so literally. Nov 6 '19 at 9:10
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    One thing that comes to my mind; PRIVACY - First of all a whatsapp-group isn't the place to share your medical issues when on sick-leave for all others in that group to read.. Second, how can you make sure that medical information of such kind isn't processed by whatssapp and sold to insurance-companies - anonymized or not..
    – iLuvLogix
    Nov 6 '19 at 10:27
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    You can't really answer "is it normal?" without a country tag: the world is a big place with lots of variety. This being said: this sure a weird one :-)
    – Hilmar
    Nov 6 '19 at 12:56
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    Sounds tyrannical. If you have an emergency, then you probably have bigger issues than messaging some nobody in HR about it. I'd go to your boss about it.
    – AndreiROM
    Nov 6 '19 at 18:16

"Is this normal to ask an employee to do like this?"

Considering we're taking about the unplanned and emergency leaves: This is not normal (I've never heard or experienced something like this), I think this is absurd, and should be questioned.

You can do couple of things:

  • Ask the HR for the definition of "emergency" and define the boundaries. To some people, a doctor's appointment is an emergency, to some, it's not. There has to be a clear guideline on this.
  • Also ask about the allowed timeline for informing. For example: for the unplanned absence of a day, you have to inform by end of that day (to keep your manager / supervisor posted of the situation).

Some scenarios, which are generally considered an emergency:

  • If an employee (or family members / relatives and friends ) meets with an accident, and unable to use the phone and is to be taken to the hospital, how can they post a message for permission?
  • If an employee lose their mobile device or it is stolen, and needs to go to a police station to register a report / complaint, for which they cannot be at office, how are they suppose to communicate?

In above cases, there cannot be a message prior to being absent, but the organization should allow some flexibility to inform at a later point of time, as soon as the situation comes under control.

  • For your second point: the same way they did 20 years ago.
    – nvoigt
    Nov 6 '19 at 6:39
  • @nvoigt Do you refer to a landline for calling? I don't see how whatsapp can be installed in a landline, keeping aside the fact that I do not have my HR manager's number memorized or even saved. Do you mention showing up late and inform in-person? Well, then the leave (maybe for half-a-day) is already consumed. Nov 6 '19 at 6:40
  • That's why Whatsapp probably is illegal as only means of communication, but it's two different things, the means to communicate and the duty to communicate.
    – nvoigt
    Nov 6 '19 at 6:41
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    @nvoigt That's why I expanded my answer to ask about the allowed timeline for informing. Nov 6 '19 at 6:42
  • It all depends on the definition of emergency. A broken lock in your front door for instance is (IMHO) a clear emergency, you cant leave your house unatended and will have to wait for a repair man. However. There is no reason that you cannot immediately inform HR about it (via Whatsapp if that is what they want). In case of a medical emergency however there are more important things then informing HR
    – user180146
    Nov 6 '19 at 14:08

As always, a lot depends on jurisdiction, but what I think is probably the norm is this:

Yes, you need to inform your supervisor about any leave you take. You cannot just not show up unannounced. If you want take a leave that you decided is necessary, you will need your supervisors approval.

Depending on jurisdiction, other authorities override the need for approval (but not for information). For example, where I live, a doctor's note trumps anything the boss says. I'm still required to inform my boss about that doctor's note and show proof (scan or copy).

There will be exceptions for when you are unable to make that call. If your subway that you take to work is stuck in a tunnel without cell coverage or if you are carried away unconscious in an ambulance, no court will rule in favor of your employer. But if you had had the opportunity to just stop for 30 seconds and send that message, you have to. That's part of your employees duties. If you decide that something else is more important, then that's a breach of contract that you can probably be fired for.

Whether installing an app on your private device is a valid way is another question. Where I live, the company would need to offer another way that is accessible by normal means, for example email or phone. An additional option to use WhatsApp would probably be fine.

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    I was thinking about a separate answer about the technical aspect but you mentioned it as well. If the employer provides employees with a company phone which has WhatsApp installed, it is legitimate to ask employees to communicate that way. But it seems a lot more likely to me that the employer here expects employees to use their private smart phones and then requesting WhatsApp is not ok and in most jurisdictions not legal.
    – quarague
    Nov 6 '19 at 8:37
  • @quarague, In which case, you call up a colleague, or your boss, or you sms/email, and ask them to post your leave request on Whatsapp on your behalf. It's not a big impediment. Nov 6 '19 at 9:11

Unless you have a particular objection to this, sometimes it's easiest to just roll with it as far as is reasonable / practical. (If your objection is you don't want to install Whatsapp on your personal phone, just simply claim Whatsapp doesn't work on your phone, and ask if they can provide you with a work phone with it installed.)

For planned leave, do as they say - get permission from the manager, and then inform HR in their Whatsapp group. No problem there.

For unplanned leave (sickness, family emergencies, etc.) just inform your manager via whatever means is appropriate (I'd say email, but since HR uses a Whatsapp group who knows) and then, as before, post in the Whatsapp group. If HR are then callous enough to hound you for not getting explicit permission from your manager before you skipped work for having that heart attack, hit back with all the legal force you can muster.

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