Sudden dismissal from job during probation period


#1

Most of us who have worked in Taiwan for a while will have seen or experienced really wacky, foolish and unprofessional things at work. But I never thought that I would experience something really shocking myself. I want to share my experience for two reasons. One, because it was so absurd and unprofessional, and two, to warn others here in case they work at this company.

What happened is I’d been at this company for almost two months, almost two-thirds through my probation, when suddenly one afternoon in the middle of the week, I was called by my manager to a room. She had a grim look, made sure the door was closed, then said sorry we won’t continue your employment. Basically, I was fired in the middle of my probation! To complete the weird symmetry, they did in the middle of the day in the middle of the week.

I’ve known people in Taiwan who were fired on their day off, fired when they came into work but asked to finish their shift, and fired with the manager then standing at their desk ordering them to hurry up and get out. But my firing tops all of these.

This company is a well-known firm in the English learning magazine industry. I won’t give its full name, but it starts with “L” and ends with “ABC.” I’m sure most of you can figure out who it is. As a foreign editor, my job was to edit articles and to write sentences and questions for these articles.

The reason for my being let go so abruptly was because apparently my work was flawed as I hadn’t done everything the way they expected. Because I was in such shock, I didn’t ask the manager to explain in detail how exactly my work was so bad. I was actually given new assignments that morning so I found it bizarre to get fired that afternoon.

I obviously don’t think my work was so terrible that I deserved to get canned in the middle of my probation. I keep thinking about this and I really can’t figure it out. During my time there, I’d get feedback like make the sentences less complicated, make the article more punchy, use simpler words, use more words, etc but nothing to indicate my work was terrible.
A few days before this happened, something weird happened to me with a dialogue I’d written for an exercise. This dialogue involved two scenarios involving a student pool party and then a worker inviting colleagues from different teams to an afterwork dinner. The main Chinese editor came up to me and gritting her teeth, asked me: “Why would someone invite colleagues from another team to dinner? Is he their boss? And why would a student have a pool?”
Seriously, this Taiwanese editor was upset because she couldn’t understand why somebody would have dinner with colleagues from different teams. I can’t figure out whether she was really surprised and upset or if she was pretending in order to use this as an excuse for my firing.

The truth is that besides the shock of being fired, losing this job wasn’t a huge tragedy. The office environment was the worst I’ve ever been in. It was this huge office with 50-60 people sitting in rows and for most of the day, there would be dead silence. There were about 10 expat staff, but we all sat far apart, and the only interaction was to pass each other our articles to do the required second checks. The work hours were fixed so there was no flex-time arrangement. Most ludicrous was that you got fined for coming in late more than twice. And you got fined for taking unpaid leave or sick leave (you’d get deducted for the time you took off and be fined NT$200 for each time ). I’ve worked at a few companies and none of them ever fined employees for coming in late or taking leave.

I know some people might not mind being in a quiet workplace with long hours, and indeed there were a few foreign staff who’d been there for years and had gotten accustomed. But if any of you considers working there, be very careful and keep my experience in mind.


#2

I don’t see anything wrong with this besides perhaps not giving you the professional curtesy of firing you on the day off or end of day. Fining/deducting people who come in hate isn’t something absurd nor is taking leave and I’m guessing you mean leave outside your holiday leaves you get per labor laws. What are suppose do pay you when you don’t come? If they aren’t happy with your work I think they have every right to get rid of you. Maybe it would nice to give you a heads up but it’s certainly not required. Perhaps they thought your work can’t fit with them or can’t get better.

This is exactly what the probation period is for.


#3

I don’t see the problem, don’t they have the right to fire you at any time if they are not satisfied with your work?


#4

You pissed someone off. It happens.

I have to say the pool party concept was a bit out there. Are Live ABC the God bothering lot? Anyway, good managers would have explained to you what their issues with your work were and given you a chance to adjust. They don’t have to, though.

Forget about it and move on.


#5

Yeah, it sucks but it happens.


#6

I don’t see why your particular experience should make potential Taiwan job seekers any more wary than they should be. Sounds pretty normal, especially at the lower end of the food chain.


#7

Sorry for your firing. That’s gotta suck. But I have to be honest, I’ve heard of much shadier and worse firing stories. This one is kind of par for the course in Taiwan. Still, I’m sure you’ll bounce back to something better.


#8

U do get fined for unpaid leave.
But u can report to the department of labor about the sick leave part, that is if you’re sure the law is on your side.

Next time instead of pool parties, just go with global warming.


#9

I think the pool parties did you in.


#10

Under the Labor Standards Act, they can lay you off (with severance pay and advance notice or wages in lieu of notice) if you’re incompetent. They can only fire you (with neither severance pay nor advance notice) if you commit serious wrongdoing.

Edit: OP worked less than three months, so there’s no compulsory notice period (LSA Art. 16).

So, cultural differences did you in. I declare “Why would a student have a pool?” an instant classic! :smile:

And that’s the kind of thing that will do Taiwanese companies in if they don’t wake up. "We need to lower wages and increase the population so that we can have more productivity for less investment. More humans means more productivity! There is no other way!" (Channeling Hsinhai…)

Most ludicrous was that you got fined for coming in late more than twice. And you got fined for taking unpaid leave or sick leave (you’d get deducted for the time you took off and be fined NT$200 for each time ). I’ve worked at a few companies and none of them ever fined employees for coming in late or taking leave.

This is where I disagree. They can “fine” you for coming in late once, as long as it’s proportional to the amount of work you missed. (They can also remove your full attendance bonus, unless doing so lowers your wage to less than the Basic Wage, pro rata, but that’s probably irrelevant for a foreigner with a normal work permit i.e. a 48k or higher salary.)

They can also reduce your salary – again, proportionally and by removing the bonus – when you take any leave not required as paid leave by the Regulations of Leave-Taking of Workers (under Art. 43 of the LSA) or the Act of Gender Equality in Employment.


Additional edit:

You can lose your full attendance bonus for taking unpaid leave (事假), but not if it’s any of the types of leave, break, or reduction of work hours prescribed in Art. 14 to 20 of the Act of Gender Equality in Employment, such as family care leave. Apparently ordinary sick leave, even though it’s paid leave, is not included in the term 公傷病假, so you can lose the bonus because of it, unless it’s AGEE sick leave such as menstrual leave.

See AGEE Art. 21 and RLTW Art. 9.


Iirc probation periods under the LSA were abolished years ago, so if they didn’t offer you severance pay and wages in lieu of notice, you probably have a case against them. I would talk to the labor department if I were you, but they won’t be interested in the cultural issues, just the company’s apparent refusal to meet its minimum obligations under the law.

When you’ve taken care of that, invest your severance pay wisely, so you can buy yourself a house with a pool and invite your former colleagues to the coolest party ever! :wink:


#11

you most probably won’t get your job back. you don’t even want it, as i can guess. but it would be nice to know why they decided against you. maybe you could write an email asking about the specific reasons, or if your up to it, even face them directly, that would probably give you a more honest answer.


#12

[quote=“yyy, post:10, topic:170388”]
Under the Labor Standards Act, they can lay you off (with severance pay and advance notice or wages in lieu of notice) if you’re incompetent. They can only fire you (with neither severance pay nor advance notice) if you commit serious wrongdoing.

He was on probation though. Usually they will state on the contract something like “ the employer reserves the right to terminate the contract at any time during the probation period if…”
not sure about his case, as he did not specify his contact terms


#13

Yes, and it seems to be normal for Taiwanese contracts to contain BS like that. If the job is subject to the LSA, and the LSA does not permit a termination standard lower than that of Art. 11 to 15, the clause is invalid.

Don’t take my word for it, of course. Ask the government and/or a lawyer. (Better to get multiple opinions, because some people don’t know what they’re talking about, even when it’s their job to know.)


#14

A former colleague (Taiwanese) was fired during his probation period.
In probation for 3 months, fired sometime on the 2nd month.
I would think that he didn’t do his assignment properly.
There were signs, such as repeated high-toned meeting from the GM.
Maybe you just missing the signs?


#15

I agree. You’re fired anyways can’t hurt to use this chance to get some constructive criticism.

I once had a restaurant job where later the gm told me some of the managers didn’t like that I eat so much in the back. everyone does it and I actually thought it was ok so I didn’t hide it because surprise surprise, I saw and learned from the managers. In their minds I did it a lot, maybe so. I did as much work and handled a good workload and always closed up on time. It didn’t seem like a big deal if everything was done for me. But he thought they just didn’t think A new guy should be doing it. So lesson learned, perception to your higher ups is sometimes more important than reality.


#16

Did you do something really annoying ?

I once had this lazy fat intern working in my office, had no choice but to fire him in the middle of the day a few weeks after he started. He kept eating chips all all day, half the chips always ended up on the floor and the other half all over his face.


#17

Live-ABC are notorious for their revolving door hiring policies. Take it as a blessing in disguise.


#18

Most likely pool parties, they wouldn’t understand what that is and thought it inappropriate for young students I guess.

Generally they won’t tell you the real reason , had similar happen before in the Western countries . If they give a reason they are afraid of legal consequences .

As Bear said some organisations see staff as disposable , always another body to occupy the chair.


#19

Maybe the person googled it and didn’t like the type of images that showed up…

https://goo.gl/images/25RRcJ


#20

I remember some time ago about ads that some foreigners put up (here?) of pool parties in the outskirts of north Taipei, with both local and foreign attendees.