Labour Bulletin | 29 March, 2011 | Hot Topics:
I know it might feel like I’ve been focusing a lot on the fact that after all the holidays there will be those couple of employees who just won’t come back to work, but it really is a vital part of being an employer. I’m sure you’ll be frustrated and angry (I would) as you need your business to carry on functioning…and you’re losing enough productive time with all the holidays! And, it’s so important that you do things by the book so you’re not the one who ends up losing even more!
So, as well as disciplining an employee who takes another day off, you need to be aware of the process to follow if an employee doesn’t come back at all.
Remember, you can’t just write off an employee who doesn’t return to work. There’s a process you must follow to protect yourself if he suddenly pitches up and demands his job back.
Follow these 4 steps if you believe your employee’s deserted
You must conduct a thorough investigation into the employee’s whereabouts and reasons for absence.
The investigation should consist of:
1. Attempts to contact him telephonically (keep notes of all attempts)
2. Letters and telegrams to the employee (retain proof of attempts)
3. Evidence from the employee’s colleagues; and
4. The examination of any other evidence that may be available such as messages from his friends or family regarding his movements
If your enquiry determines:
- The employee definitely doesn’t intend to return, hold a disciplinary hearing where he could be dismissed if no acceptable reason for the absence is given. But if the employee returns wishing to recommence work, be prepared to reopen the hearing to ascertain why he was absent and if you should reinstate him.
- The employee intends to return, you need to prepare for a disciplinary hearing for absenteeism
- There’s no way of ascertaining his intentions, you can pay him off but be prepared to reopen the enquiry if he returns. If the reopened enquiry establishes his absence was unjustified (as you have done everything to try to ascertain his intentions) you can confirm the termination of his employment. You must follow the correct disciplinary process! If you find his absence wasn’t his fault you must take him back.
Have a look at chapter A01 in your Labour Law for Managers to get the step-by-step legal advice you need to deal with any absenteeism issue. Or, if you're not yet a subscriber, get your copy here to prepare for any employee problem.
Until next time...
Managing Editor: Personnel Division
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Labour Bulletin Editor
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