Jun 9, 2015

Absence From Work Without Permission

Section 15(2)

WHAT CAN BE DONE ABOUT EMPLOYEES WHO ARE ABSENT WITHOUT PERMISSION? 

Absence from work without permission is an act of misconduct. Action should be taken every time an employee is absent from work without permission and without a reasonable excuse.

When an employee is absent for one or two days without leave, an employer should require the employee to explain the reason for his absence. If he is unable to provide an acceptable reason for the absence, a warning letter should be issued. If the employee repeats his behaviour of being absent without leave for a second time, a second warning letter may be issued. Any further repetition of this behaviour should lead to a serious penalty such as a suspension without pay, or a demotion or even a dismissal.

Excuses provided by employees for absence are many and varied. Employers should be careful to give the opportunity to an employee to explain the reasons for any unauthorized absence. Where his explanation is not acceptable, disciplinary action should be taken.

CAN AN EMPLOYEE BE DISMISSED FOR ABSENCE WITHOUT LEAVE? 

According to the Employment Act, an employee who is absent for more than 2 consecutive working days can be dismissed as he is deemed to have broken his contract of employment. This means that by the third day that an employee is absent without leave an attempt should be made to find out why he has not reported for duty.

If the employee’s whereabouts and reason for absence are unknown, he should be sent a letter to his residence, ordering him to explain his absence. A short deadline would be appropriate. The letter may further state that if he does not respond, it will be assumed by the company that he is no longer interested in his employment and his contract of employment will come to an end on the deadline. The letter may refer to the Employment Act if the employer wishes.

The letter to the employee should not suggest that the employee has committed “self-termination” as there is no such concept in employment law. However, because the employee has breached his contract of employment the employer has the right to terminate the contract.

To reduce problems relating to employees being absent without leave, clear leave policies and procedures are essential. Permission to take emergency leave should be given sparingly and only when an employee can provide proof of the emergency which he is facing.

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