Can My Manager Go To My Second Job To Verify I Was Out Sick?

A question for Ask the Workplace Doctors:
Can my manager come to my second job to check on me, when I’ve called in sick? 

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Question: 
Hi, I currently work 2 part time jobs in two different stores in the same shopping center. I have had problems with one of the stores ever since I joined. They waited to pay my September’s wages all the way into December. Then, they messed up my December’s wages and I wasn’t paid until in January. My bank has been overdrawn and I couldn’t even buy any of my parents or friends any gifts, which ruined the whole holiday season for me. They also haven’t recorded the overtime I have worked for previous months, so the store manager had to check CCTV footage to see when I was in, to rewrite any overtime. This was also paid late to me. ( I will call this store, Store A). The second place I work is much more professional and I have not had the slightest problem or worry about anything and they treat the workers like royalty (I will call this store, Store B)

Just yesterday I called in sick to Store A. The next day when I came to work at Store B my manager told me that one of the managers from Store A, along with a supervisor, came to store B looked around on both floors to see If I was there and left. This happened directly after I called in sick to Store A.

Are they authorised to do this?
Can they, during their work hours, come into my second work place to see if I was there and if I was lying to them?
What actions can I take against them?

I have always had problems with that manager. He told me my first week when I started that three people complained about me and that I should calm down my attitude. However, when I told this to the main store manager she told me that this was not true and I was doing very well. I almost got him a disciplinary action but I decided not to go ahead with it and wanted to give him one more chance. I’m also planning on leaving Store A but I would like to know what I can do.

Thank you for reading my question. I know it’s a strange one.

Response:

Hello and thank you for sharing your workplace issue with us. You say you are leaving Store A soon—and that sounds to me like the best thing you can do in every way. If they are only a local store and not a large one, there is probably no one higher up to write to. But, if they are part of a large chain of stores, I think you should write a letter to the company HR department to tell them about the paycheck issues. No one should have to wait to be paid for the work they have done. It may even be that the company has violated an employment law or regulation about paying on time. However, researching that would probably be more trouble than any results would be worth, since you’ve been paid now and are leaving.

It certainly sounds like it’s a rinky-dink, poorly-run business with managers who treat people badly. Or, perhaps you just have had bad experiences there and other employees are doing fine. Whatever the situation, you will be happier almost anyplace else. The only way it will hurt them is that they’ll have to go through the hassle of getting another employee, but at least you won’t be dealing with them anymore. Maybe when you leave, it will encourage others to take the same action.

However, your main question was about a manager coming to your second place of employment to check on you when you called in sick. You felt he was spying on you and wanted to know if he could do that. There is nothing to keep them from doing it—and there would probably be times when a slightly (or very) dishonest employee would be found out by having someone check on them that way. I once worked as a supervisor for a company that had supervisors go to the homes of employees at random to see if they were actually home ill. One time, on my way to an employee’s house, I saw his very distinctive pick-up truck at a service station—with a boat hitched to the back! I handled it by driving over to him and telling him I’d give him an hour to be back home when I went there to check on him, and I suggested he cough a few times after he answered the door. He apologized later and had a long career there. He wasn’t a bad person or an innately dishonest person, but I was glad I checked on him to keep that from becoming a habit. I didn’t think of it as spying, I just thought of it as oversight about an issue that we knew had been a problem with all employees in the past.

It’s obvious your immediate manager doesn’t trust you and his feelings will probably never change. Also, given what has happened in the past, it doesn’t seem likely Store A will ever be a good place for you to work. Dr. Gorden often advises people to “vote with your feet”. By that he means, when there is nothing you can do about a bad work situation, the best way to let your opinion be known is to leave it and find someplace better, where your personality and work quality can develop positively. I hope you will be able to do that soon.

In the meantime, report to work, do your job very well, then go home and figure you are one day closer to the time you can leave. You may find it easier to not question your manager about going to the other store. Or, you may feel confident enough that you want to question why he did it. He probably knows you know—so it will be awkward no matter how you handle it. But, at least you know you were innocent of wrongdoing and (I assume) had not given them any reason to distrust you or to spy on you.

Enjoy Store B and give them plenty of reasons to value you and support you, no matter what negative things they might hear from the other store. If you have someone you respect and trust who you can talk to about this, share your concerns with them as well. It may be they can provide some advice that would be helpful, given they are closer to the situation than we are.

Best wishes to you. If you have the time and want to do so, let us know what happens down the line.

Tina Rowe
Ask the Workplace Doctors