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Employee Doesn’t Respond To Emails While On Vacation And Costs Company A Client

Witthaya Prasongsin/Getty Images

“Quiet quitting” is when you put a hard stop on all work when you’re agreed upon hours are over.

On the service level, it seems rather fair, as one shouldn’t be expected to work longer hours than agreed upon, or on days when they weren’t scheduled to work.

However, some might argue that there is nothing wrong with putting in that extra effort, particularly if you want to grow in your company.

Or, for that matter, if you are in a position of considerable power, being accessible beyond working hours might save your company from a boatload of trouble.

Redditor hollandaisecrabcake made it abundantly clear that they would not be available while on vacation, and thought they had everything under control before they left.

Unfortunately, the original poster (OP) returned to find their office somewhat in shambles.

With many placing the blame directly on the OP.

Wondering if they were, in fact, at fault, the OP took to the subReddit “Am I The A**hole” (AITA), where they asked fellow Redditors:

“AITA for not answering work emails while on vacation resulting in the loss of a client?”

The OP explained why they found themself becoming persona non grata at work, which they firmly believed they didn’t deserve.

“My husband and I took a much needed vacation to the beach last week and the entire week before we left I sent emails around letting everyone know I’d be completely inaccessible for the week, so to come and see me for any work materials needed, files etc.”

“I gave everyone everything I knew or thought they’d need and left confident that everyone had prepared themselves, seeing as I’d given them 8 days to prepare.”

“When I returned I found chaos in the office.”

“Apparently one of my colleagues had needed files for a particularly important client of ours and had not been able to find them in my office and I never responded to calls or emails, as I warned I wouldn’t do.”

“This coworker knew they’d be handling this client and had 8 days and 12 hours a day to ask me for all pertinent files and appears to have not.”

“In any case, I was blamed because the client is technically mine and I am supervisor of this coworker.”

“I contend that I am blameless because this coworker had 8 days to collect all their files like their other coworkers did and they neglected to do so.”

‘No one seems to care about that.”

“AITA here?”

Fellow Redditors weighed in on where they believed the OP fell in this particular situation by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

The Reddit community was somewhat divided, as well as confused, as to where they felt the OP fell by being unresponsive on vacation.

Some, however, felt the OP was definitely not the a**hole, as they should have had the right to enjoy their vacation without being disturbed.

“What happened is unfortunate, but you were clear that you would not be working during your time off.”


“Your office needs a better system.”

“What if you get hit by a bus one day?”

“Or quit?”

“It’s a bad idea to have only ONE employee have access to vital files/clients.”

“For many reasons.”- Christmas850


“But the bucks stops at you.”

‘You told them and gave time for them to get what was needed and you tried to make sure ppl had what they needed prior to your vacay.”

“their failure shouldn’t be thrust upon you when that was their fault, not you.”

“However, your position puts you at the blunt for when [things] go bad.”

“You at least have a paper trail to show you did what you said in the email and asked them to get what was needed.”

“If one person not being available can disrupt success enough that the person not physically there is blamed, then the structure of the company is not designed for success in the long-term.”- Sea-Tea-4130

Others, however, felt the OP should have been 100% sure that everything was in order before they went on vacation, and possibly at least checked emails once or twice a day, and thus found them to fairly clearly be the a**hole.

“Your office sucks for not having a proper knowledge management system, but the way you’re trying to pass the blame to your subordinate instead of working for a solution and trying to point out systemic issues makes YTA.”

“Handing over everything that they might need to meet your client was your responsibility, not theirs.”

“You should have been the one to predict what the client might need, not your subordinate, because they are your client.”

“The fact that even you, who knows the client best, overlooked something major means your subordinate is the one who’s blameless, as she has even less of a relationship/knowledge of the client than you do.”

“Additionally, we don’t even know if 8 days was enough notice for your subordinate to foresee everything she might need to meet with your client.”

“She could have also been busy in those 8 days.”

“Pointing out that her coworkers had everything they need for a different client is irrelevant.”

“Furthermore, you are the supervisor.”

“Good supervisors spot the mistakes of their reports and correct them before something of major consequence happens.”

“In your absence, your grand boss or assistant should have been there to do your duties.”

“Bad supervisors throw their reports under the bus and act blameless.”- BundleBenes

“This makes no sense.”

“You said you gave everybody the stuff they’d need, then say they had a week to get what they needed from you.”

“Those are two different and contradictory statements.”

“Which is it?”

“I’ve worked in underfunded schools with better systems for arranging substitutes than this, and I’d be fired for expecting subs to find my lesson plans themselves rather than making sure the front desk staff had it all to hand to the sub.”

“And I’ll guess I’m paid less than OP, too.”

“YTA, not about the emails, but about not setting your substitutes up to succeed.”- mawlz2012

‘It’s your coworker’s fault, but it’s your responsibility.”

‘YTA because you are management and it is literally part of your job to ensure that everything is squared away with your client.”

“Ownership of a client means that the buck stops with you.”- tyromania

“I was about to say NTA right up until you casually slipped in that little detail at the end that you’re this person’s supervisor.”

“In that case, YTA.”

“Sounds like you knew their work ethic and client load, so should have accounted for this.”-metropoliskoala


“It’s not your subordinate’s job to ask you for the files and other pertinent information they may need for your client.”

“That’s your job as their supervisor and the person in charge of this client’s account.”

“You’re not expected to answer calls and emails while on vacation but you should have left an emergency only contact had you done that this wouldn’t have happened.”

“There’s just no way you can try to explain this where somehow it isn’t your fault or responsibility.”-FoxUniCarKilo

“It’s been a while since I worked on sales but if I was left tending to someone else’s caseload ones plus my own I’d expect to be given all needed materials.”

“As it wasn’t their account how could they know what they might need when even you didn’t know they would need it?”


“You left your accounts in full knowledge something could go wrong and didn’t mitigate it.”

“You’re the supervisor.”

“If you were creating a sink or swim teachable moment then you ought to own that you saw the potential for failure and let it play out.”- bestcmw


“If you are the supervisor of the employee who was not able to find the files then yes, you are at fault.”

“What kind of misunderstanding do you have of being a supervisor?”

“Apparently you did not prepare them enough, that is on you not as a colleague on vacation but as supervisor.”

“How about as supervisor you establish a more failsafe system of people being away maybe for sickness or vacation without everything turning into chaos.”

“Poor employees.”- Southern-Gazelle2225

“I am not going to bother with the ‘NTA’ crap but coming from a high-level exec, it is important for you to realize that the blame IS yours even though the blame is also very clear with your subordinate.”

“The reason is that you are responsible for all of the output and for all of the team below you.”

“Their f*ckup is your f*ckup.”

“How can you possibly manage or lead them when you are so quick to try to place blame on their shoulders?”

“If you lost a client because a subordinate of yours could not access vital data, that is YOUR fault for not training that subordinate to better organize their requirements, and YOUR fault for not having a policy or mechanism in place through which they could access that data.”

“It sounds like you need to wake up and learn what it means to lead and manage a team.”

“If a contract was about to close in your absence, and you decided that your personal policy was to go completely off the radar with no ‘high urgency’ emergency lifeline through which to contact you, then you should have made 200% sure before leaving that not only every box was ticked on data/decision needs for that client’s work, but that there were backup mechanisms in place for your team to access any materials that they suddenly needed.”

“Why didn’t you designate an assistant or coworker to handle urgent issues in your absence?”

“Someone who could ask IT for access to your machine or network drive if so needed.”

“If you’re too small for IT or for having coworkers, then you have to adjust as needed.”

“A supervisor/manager who displays a gut reaction to blame a subordinate for a problem is one of the biggest red flags that you can find in management.”

“You seem like a grown adult with management responsibilities, yet more than pass blame, you’re posting to a message board full of kids and college students and folks who have no idea about responsibilities in management, and hoping to be patted on the back and recused of your responsibility in this case.”

“You aren’t the a-hole for having this happen or for making a mistake.”

“Everyone makes mistakes, but you are indeed the a-hole for shifting blame to a subordinate to dodge any responsibility for this yourself.”

“You have all the latitude you need to give that employee a warning or do create absence policies that avoid this problem next time, but the blame is ultimately yours, and this blame also falls directly on your own supervisor, too, for not making sure that you had it together before leaving.”

“At our company there is a very high tolerance for mistakes and accidents, but a very low tolerance for immaturity and an inability to understand the way that responsibility works.”

‘Responsibility isn’t a net sum game.”

‘You don’t remove blame from your own shoulders by passing it to a subordinate.”

“You can shuffle the blame around all you want; the sum of all blame, and responsibilities, within your team, still falls squarely on your shoulders.”

“If you wanted to deflect blame, you are free to deflect it upwards, but part of management is having a backbone instead of spinelessly passing blame to the people you’re supposed to be leading.”

“YTA, not for the mistake itself, but for the awful way you’re handling it.”- PBK–

Everyone should be able to enjoy their vacation, and not think about work for at least a handful of days.

Including the OP.

However, the OP would have likely been able to put their mind at rest, even more, had they personally made sure everything was in order before taking off.

Not simply assume everyone else would do that for them.

A mistake one imagines the OP will never make again.

Written by John Curtis

A novelist, picture book writer and native New Yorker, John is a graduate of Syracuse University and the children's media graduate program at Centennial College. When not staring at his computer monitor, you'll most likely find John sipping tea watching British comedies, or in the kitchen, taking a stab at the technical challenge on the most recent episode of 'The Great British Baking Show'.