WhatsApp is probably the most common, effective way to communicate these days. But sometimes, having too many conversations or WhatsApp groups can affect your quality of life as well.
It’s a common trend now, for companies to create WhatsApp groups among employers and employees.
However, one can’t deny that this can sometimes get pretty overwhelming, especially when work messages come in after working hours, or when you’re on a holiday.
But, Can you Leave your Company WhatsApp Group?
A Maxis employee actually did it!
The question above is best answered with a recent Industrial Court case, Thilagavathy A/P Arunasalam v Maxis Mobile Sdn Bhd.
Basically, the case came up when the employee was dismissed for leaving two of her company WhatsApp groups because…she wanted to go on a holiday.
Here’s a short background on what exactly happened.
Thila (the ex-employee) was employed by Maxis as a Sales and Services Executive, where she had to send daily sales and service reports via WhatsApp to her branch manager.
She was then added into two WhatsApp groups – one with the Managers and Supervisors, and another with all the other employees.
The Head of Branch also informed all the employees that they will have to notify him if they intend to leave any of the company WhatsApp groups.
However, Thila left one of the Whatsapp groups’ without permission from her superiors.
In her defense, she stated that she was not aware of the company policy stating that she had to inform her branch manager.
Since it was a first-time mistake, she was let off with a warning from the branch manager and things were back to normal again until she did it…again!
This time, however, she left BOTH the company WhatsApp groups and had informed one of the group chats but not her manager that she was going on holiday and needed peace of mind away from work.
Due to this, she was dismissed by Maxis for misconduct and uncooperative attitude towards the company.
So, Thila was unhappy with the dismissal and claimed that it was unfair for Maxis to do so.
She then decided to sue them for it, and brought the matter to the Industrial court where she asked for two things:
- She wanted Maxis to reinstate her to her former position as a Sales and Service executive.
- Get compensated for the unjust termination of her employment.
What Did the Court Say?
So, in cases of unfair dismissal, the Court has to look into several things before making a judgement.
In Thila’s case, Maxis made two allegations that had contributed to the termination of her employment:
- It was her failure to inform the Branch Manager before exiting the WhatsApp groups (twice)
- She failed to send the Daily Sales and Service Reports for at least 7 days.
The Court now has to identify if the allegations made by Maxis is true and whether there is proof.
Also, if she is indeed at fault, the court will have to consider if the punishment for her (ie; the dismissal) is too harsh or not.
So, in the judgement of the award, the court found that Maxis’ allegations were true based on the evidences given.
So, What Does This Mean to Others?
Exiting a company WhatsApp group is similar to breaking company policy now.
Basically, it is a breach of the company policy when an employee exits a WhatsApp chat group or any kind of chat space for that matter when it has been expressly mentioned that they shouldn’t do so.
Therefore, if you want to avoid going to court with your Company, maybe it’s best to check with your boss before leaving the company WhatsApp group.
Quitting a WhatsApp group may not seem like a very serious offence, especially if it’s in a commercial context.
However, there are some companies that use social media or chat groups to discuss important, company related matters among employers/employees.
If your company has clearly stated that the WhatsApp group is the official form of communication in your company, it’s best not to leave the group chat without giving a valid reason for doing so.
If your reason for leaving is considered unreasonable by the Company, it can amount to a serious misconduct and you can be fired for it.
So, if you really want to avoid being bugged after working hours or when you’re on a holiday, perhaps you can try and just mute your company chat group instead.