# I might get fired from my job!

So i pissed a bunch of people in HR today. They were evidently recording internet use by all of the employees in the company and they claim I have been using the internet way too much and that they might fire me. What a bunch of BS. First off my job at the pharm. company I work at is a chemist. What am I supposed to do when I set up a reaction and have to wait 2 hours for it to go to completion? 2nd the pharm company is small so there isn't that much capital to work with. What am I supposed to do when there is a 30-45 min queue to use the NMR, mass spectrometer, or the machine that does chromatography? You literally can not proceed further until you get the data back from those instruments. I know those instruments are extremely expensive, which is why they only have 1 of each, but they really need more in order for us to not have to wait. They didn't even record how long you spend on the internet, but how many websites you visit. I mean how do they know I am not visiting 10 websites in 5 minutes? The corporate would is a bunch of beaurocractic nonsense. I get all of my work done that is assigned to me on time so I really don't see what the problem is. Maybe I should take up cigarettes instead. Why is it that people who smoke are allowed to go outside 4-5 times a day for 10 minutes at a time and allowed to take smoke breaks? They don't get into trouble. Maybe it really is a blessing in diguise. They are only paying me 20,000/year with no health insurance so far, and I was about to leave to find a better job anyway. I guess that is what you get when you have stupid business people running a scientific company. The people in HR have no understanding of chemistry at all and really should shove their policies and SOPs up their a.

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brewnog
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Monique
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Well, in the time you're waiting you could do research or plan other experiments? In any case, I don't think they can fire you right away: you first should get a warning.

Evo
Mentor
Monique said:
I don't think they can fire you right away: you first should get a warning.
If HR called him in and had that discussion, that's a warning. They may or may not give a written warning, depends on their policy.

Gokul43201
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
gravenewworld said:
They didn't even record how long you spend on the internet, but how many websites you visit.
Can they even justify an argument for firing someone on grounds as idiotic as that ?

When I'm waiting on/monitoring experiments and have no other activity planned, I'm often on the internet, browsing general news, Physicsweb or APS news, looking up papers and other resources and very, very, very rarely...poking into PF !

Monique said:
Well, in the time you're waiting you could do research or plan other experiments? In any case, I don't think they can fire you right away: you first should get a warning.

That's the thing-planning experiments isn't my responsibility. The PhD's are the ones who come up with targets and how to go about making them. The only thing I am responsible for is actually synthesizing them in the lab and purification.

Evo
Mentor
Some companies have policies now about non-business/non-job related use of the internet, and it can be grounds for termination.

Sounds like graveneworld didn't handle the situation well, but he did say he is thinking about changing jobs anyway. They ARE your employer and they CAN tell you what you can do while you are working and what resources you can use. Most companies that fire employees for being on the internet while they are "working" consider it an abuse of resources for termination purposes.

brewnog
Gold Member
My employer's internet policy is very clear, and I signed it to say that I'd agree with it before I was given internet access. Basically, I don't use it for personal reasons, and I know of quite a few people who have been dismissed for sending personal emails, viewing websites etc. It's fair enough I reckon.

HA! I'm screwing around on the internet appox. 6 hours a day at work. :P mostly forums, and I'm always on MSN. They told me not to when I started, but everyone does it, and no one seems to care. I work for a municipality though :) easy city job.

If you are only getting $20,000 a year screw them. I'd hire you for twice that and the only job requirement would be to be able to put up with me. I wouldn't even wake up in the morning for those kinds of wages. Don't ever get your panties in a bundle for that kind of money, there's lots more jobs out there. Gokul43201 Staff Emeritus Science Advisor Gold Member Gravenworld : Do you plan on going to grad school ? Moonbear Staff Emeritus Science Advisor Gold Member tribdog said: If you are only getting$20,000 a year screw them. I'd hire you for twice that and the only job requirement would be to be able to put up with me. I wouldn't even wake up in the morning for those kinds of wages. Don't ever get your panties in a bundle for that kind of money, there's lots more jobs out there.
Don't buy it GNW! It would take a lot more than double that to put up with tribdog all day! You should get hazard pay for that.

As for internet use at work, if the company has a policy against it, then that's all there is to it. Though, if you're not busy enough to find things to do for entire 2 hour blocks of time while waiting for something else to react, then they may also be looking at the time you spend on the internet as an indicator that they can cut back staff. As you said, they seem to be logging what sites you're visiting, so unless you can justify that they are sites related to your job function, such as reading research articles, then they're probably looking at it that they're paying you a full day's pay for only putting in a half day of work.

If you just had 5 and 10 minute gaps of time, I would understand not being able to do much else in between, but 2 hour gaps of time sounds like pretty serious lack of productivity. Perhaps instead of surfing the net, you need to be using that time to ask if there are other projects you can be assisting with, or other tasks you can take on that will fit into the blocks of time you are just sitting around with nothing to do.

Even knowing what the grad student lifestyle is about, thus cutting some slack for grad students taking care of personal stuff from the lab because they're working long hours that prevent them from doing it at home, I do also notice if they are spending their time sitting at the computer doing their shopping rather than reading journal articles or writing, or getting things organized for their next project, etc., and I especially note it if they start claiming they don't have time to balance their labwork and coursework to get it all done.

Why is that a bad thing?

Just kidding
Is there a union or some other gourp you can talk if they therten to fire you?

gravenworld what are they using to log your interent traffic?? How big is your company?? Join some newsgroups and read posting that way.. at least they cant say you are surfing the www then hehe...

loseyourname
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Why exactly are you doing this in the first place? I made more than $20,000 a year (or would have, had I worked a full year) in the first job I ever held, as a stockperson. Surely you can do better if you look around. I also had virtually no downtime and the workday passed like nothing. I was never bored. Gravenworld : Do you plan on going to grad school ? yes As for internet use at work, if the company has a policy against it, then that's all there is to it. Though, if you're not busy enough to find things to do for entire 2 hour blocks of time while waiting for something else to react, then they may also be looking at the time you spend on the internet as an indicator that they can cut back staff. As you said, they seem to be logging what sites you're visiting, so unless you can justify that they are sites related to your job function, such as reading research articles, then they're probably looking at it that they're paying you a full day's pay for only putting in a half day of work. I know thats the way HR sees it. But the problem is the fact that they don't have enough capital not that they are over staffed. We only have 5 chemists on the project I am working on. They simply need more resources (but this probably isn't gonna happen since a good mass spec costs close to a million dollars). Why exactly are you doing this in the first place? I made more than$20,000 a year (or would have, had I worked a full year) in the first job I ever held, as a stockperson. Surely you can do better if you look around. I also had virtually no downtime and the workday passed like nothing. I was never bored.

doing it for experience. it also looks really good on school applications.

Moonbear
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
gravenewworld said:
I know thats the way HR sees it. But the problem is the fact that they don't have enough capital not that they are over staffed. We only have 5 chemists on the project I am working on. They simply need more resources (but this probably isn't gonna happen since a good mass spec costs close to a million dollars).
Well, really the two go hand-in-hand. If you don't have the resources to buy equipment to keep 5 chemists busy, then you are also over-staffed. It only wastes more of those precious resources to pay the salaries of people who have nothing to do but twiddle their thumbs for hours at a time. Instead of paying 5 people $20K each, you pay 2 or 3 of them$30-\$35 K each and expect them to be able to multi-task enough that while one reaction is running, they are setting up the next one, or using the mass spec on a reaction they already started.

loseyourname
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
gravenewworld said:
doing it for experience. it also looks really good on school applications.
I hope it works for you. It won't look good on your application if you get fired. I suppose you can lie about that, though. Prospective employers are not allowed to ask, but I don't know about schools.

Just to clarify, a prospective employer can ask you if you've been fired, but as far as I know, when they call on your work references, all the HR department of your previous employer can tell them is the length of your term of service, your job title, and rate of pay. They can't comment on the circumstances that resulted in your leaving.