I would like to request that "Unproductive subordinate using health conditions and problems outside of work as excuse and HR are no help" be reopened. It was marked as a duplicate of "I'm swamped at work and a colleague is slacking. Not sure if telling on him is professional".

The duplicate question is about someone who is very busy at work and wants an unproductive intern to help with the workload. This person is not a manager to the intern, and the intern's lack of effort is not the reason why the poster is so overworked.

The main question is about a subordinate who is being unproductive and causing increased workload on their manager. The typical answer of "It's not your job to manage" doesn't apply because the poster is the manager and it is their job to manage. The added complication is that the subordinate has medical issues which require (currently undefined) accommodations, thus preventing the manager from being able to actually manage yet still causing increased work stress.

Frankly, the two questions are so different that I'm completely baffled this even needs to be discussed. Please vote to reopen the question.

  • I agree that this isn't a duplicate but do you think the question deserves being reopened? "This is a first for me so what steps should I be taking to ensure that if my subordinate is fired there are no repercussions?" is a question that is very difficult to answer even in a general fashion. The question is a giant wall of text and the only advice I think the OP needs is to ask HR and his own manager how to handle it. They're the ones telling him to proceed with care, they should be able to define what that means.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Aug 9, 2017 at 13:16
  • @Lilienthal I agree the question could certainly be improved, but I think the situation is still on-topic. Part of the problem is that HR and the manager aren't being helpful, so he needs to know how to at least not make things worse with no direction. In This Meta discussion the consensus was that if a question is on-topic but a duplicate, it should be reopened and then closed again. If a question is off-topic but not a duplicate, would the same logic apply? (I'm undecided on that last point, as it is slightly different.)
    – David K
    Aug 9, 2017 at 13:34
  • Then the question should be "How can I convince HR / my manager to take action?" and that's not what it says right now. He's not asking "how do I keep the team going after 2 years of this", he wants firing advice and that's both a legal and managerial minefield in OP's situation. As for your second question, IIRC the SOP according to main meta is to not reopen and reclose questions just because the close reason is incorrect but I believe that is mainly about using the wrong off-topic close reason. Duplicates are different.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Aug 9, 2017 at 14:16
  • 1
    Outright bad questions that are incorrectly marked as dupes should probably be reclosed as off-topic as I think the auto-cleanup won't delete duplicate questions. If this hadn't been on 2 reopen votes already I'd have probably removed the duplicate and reclosed it myself.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Aug 9, 2017 at 14:18
  • It shouldn't have been closed for that reason, but it was a bad question. Aug 9, 2017 at 16:35
  • I just edited the question to hopefully bring it more in focus and rephrased the final question to be more on-topic.
    – David K
    Aug 9, 2017 at 16:57

2 Answers 2


I made an additional edit to cut down some of the loaded language and remove some of the details not relevant to the core question, which is essentially this:

I have a subordinate with health issues and personal problems. I would prefer to fire him, but do not want to get into any legal trouble. What steps should I take to ensure this?

This is an on-topic question IMHO. As Lilienthal says in the comments, this question maybe very difficult to answer in a general fashion. However, it seems to be one that a skilled HR Professional in the know of local work practices should be able to answer, or at least attempt to answer.

I prefer to have questions opened and answered as against closed wherever possible, so I chose to give it the benefit of doubt and cast the 4th reopen vote.

  • I apologize, I was editing the question at the same time as you and I used my edits. I think we were both trying to make similar changes though. I'm going to go back and see if there are any wording changes you made that I can incorporate back in.
    – David K
    Aug 9, 2017 at 17:12
  • @DavidK Don't worry about it. I realized what was going on as soon as I saw the differences.
    – Masked Man
    Aug 9, 2017 at 17:19
  • 1
    The main change I tried doing there was to improve the flow of thought because the OP kept hopping back and forth between me, my boss, my subordinate and HR, which made it harder (for me) to follow what he was trying to say. I just tried to "group" together each character's role/description. I also removed some of the judgemental language (such as "subordinate is making excuses" and "I have done more in 2 years than he has done in 8 years").
    – Masked Man
    Aug 9, 2017 at 17:26
  • Though it needed some edit, I think removing the fact that the OP think that the subordinate is using is health condition as an excuse to working less that he could seems too much for me. Handle an honest people that have health problem vs someone that is not honest even if he has health problem may leed to two differents answers for me. Note that this can be still understood by reading between some lines but I really think this should be written and highlighted on the post. We're not in position to tell if the OP is right or wrong about that.
    – Walfrat
    Aug 10, 2017 at 7:29
  • There are those two sentences : he spends most of the meeting making excuses about his health conditions and personal problems outside work., I have to e-mail him, but he then ignores his e-mails but I think it's not clear enough that for the OP, his subordinate is not honest/professional, whatever his health codition are.
    – Walfrat
    Aug 10, 2017 at 7:30
  • @Walfrat That is a good point, but I did not really think "he is making excuses" was necessary, since we don't know anything about the subordinate other than what the OP has told us. Every one of us falls sick once in a while, and we cannot fully focus on work at that time even if we try to. That does not mean we use that as an excuse to slack off. In the OP's case, the sickness is so severe that HR has to get involved, so to me it sounded like he wasn't deliberately slacking off, but his sickness wasn't letting him contribute, and the OP perceived this as an "excuse".
    – Masked Man
    Aug 10, 2017 at 7:37
  • Well I am for keeping the idea, not necessary the wording. And it seems that it has been ongoing for 8 years. Note that we can perfectly afford an answer considering that OP is not in position to judge and should do XY accordingly whereas another can go in the same way than the OP and so he should do Z.
    – Walfrat
    Aug 10, 2017 at 8:08
  • @Walfrat I don't feel particularly strongly about this issue, so I am ok with either approach. My main issue with the OP's original version was this: "I send him emails, and do not receive a response, hence I have no idea what he is doing" is factual, "He is using his health condition as an excuse to ignore my emails" is just opinion. I certainly see from the overall context how that can be inferred, but I did not want the question to sound like it has been conclusively proven. Of course, if we can cover that point in the answer, that's also fine by me.
    – Masked Man
    Aug 10, 2017 at 8:18
  • Maybe, some time later in the day, I will take another stab at editing it taking that into account as well as the merge issue with David's edits.
    – Masked Man
    Aug 10, 2017 at 8:20
  • @Walfrat For what it's worth, the current edit I made keeps the wording "he spends most of the meeting making excuses about his health conditions"
    – David K
    Aug 10, 2017 at 12:12
  • FWIW, I took another stab at trimming down the question, and have reintroduced the point about "excuses".
    – Masked Man
    Aug 10, 2017 at 17:03

The latest edit mentions the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) yet the post itself is tagged "united-kingdom". Unless the US has conquered the UK and taken over, the ADA doesn't apply to the UK.

  • Good catch. I just rolled back that edit.
    – David K
    Aug 11, 2017 at 18:50

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