I was in charge at my retail workplace for the day. The managers weren't available and I was placed in charge. I'm not too familiar with work rights but I understand a few. My coworker asked me if they could immediately take their lunch break. As it wasn't their time to take their lunch, my response was that they could rest a bit. And if they absolutely do not feel well after resting, then they could leave work. They complied and went into the office to rest. A few moments after I noticed they left to go home. I later found out that they texted my assistant manager if they could go home due to them feeling ill. My assistant manager then showed me the text stating that I did not let them leave and that they know their rights as this is unacceptable.

I am aware that if employees are sick, it is inevitable to let them leave even if staff is short. However, I did not out right told them that they must stay and I had given them the option to leave after taking a rest. Am I still at wrong?

  • 3
    Location? Employment law varies from place to place.
    – nick012000
    Dec 22, 2019 at 1:10
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    It's not clear from your question whether your co-worker had told you that they were feeling sick, or when they told you. Can you clarify this? Dec 22, 2019 at 7:21
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    @GeoffreyBrent's question is important. There is a big difference between suggesting on-site resting to an employee who claims to be tired and asks for an early lunch break and doing the same thing to an employee who claims to be sick and to need to go home. Dec 22, 2019 at 17:02
  • Not a complete answer, but a suggestion as a follow up to the good answers you already have: next time your boss says "I'm leaving, you're in charge" it's reasonable to ask them, "what should I do if I'm faced with an unusual situation? Is there someone I can reach out to in order to check my decisions?"
    – dwizum
    Dec 23, 2019 at 14:44

2 Answers 2


Tell your manager exactly what you said to the worker - "take a rest and feel free to leave if you think you need to" - and ask if that was okay. It may be the worker didn't fully report your conversation.

You also might ask for more training on policies and regulations if you are regularly being left in charge like this.

  • 1
    Without a location or more detail (the question doesn't mention that the employee said they were sick, just that they wanted an early lunch) then this seems like the correct answer. It's generally the employee's responsibility to determine if they feel too sick to work. If they asked if they were allowed to leave and were told no, that would generally be wrong, but if they just said they were feeling ill and wanted to take an early lunch, I don't think it's down to the supervisor to tell them they're too sick to work and send them home.
    – delinear
    Dec 23, 2019 at 11:59

At first look, you did the correct thing (I would have done the same), however, you need to be 100% sure that everyone knows you are doing things right, as the decision you are making are not part of your usual job description.

I completely agree with the answer provided by HorusKol, clarify the situation as soon as possible by providing the complete version of the statement you made.

Next time, if any situation comes up, which you usually don't decide upon, but now you need to take a call, do two things:

  1. Ensure that the decision is properly communicated and well understood. At times, when people are looking for a black-and-white answer, like "Yes" (or "No"), any additional elaboration might leave them confused. So, while elaborating, make sure they understand the decision.

  2. Make sure you ask to have the information propagated through proper channel, or, put a memo / note describing the situation and the opinion / decision provided by you. That way, you will be covered, should situations like the current one arises.

  • If the OP was left "in charge", then they are supposed to decide upon...
    – Solar Mike
    Dec 22, 2019 at 14:44
  • @SolarMike Altered the wordings a bit, thanks for the note. Dec 22, 2019 at 14:46
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    Dear Downvoter, along with the downvote, if you can leave a comment mentioning what is not useful about the answer, and how it can possibly be improved, it'll be helpful. Thanks. Dec 23, 2019 at 11:08
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    @SouravGhosh down-voted as it's not an answer to the question
    – Cloud
    Sep 30, 2020 at 13:37
  • @Cloud Sure, have it your way. :) Sep 30, 2020 at 13:39

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