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'My employee has absconded. Can I dismiss him right away?'

by , 19 January 2015
Absconsion is one of the biggest problems employers face at this time of the year.

But what can you do if your employee never returned from holiday?

Can you dismiss the absconding employee right away to make sure his absence doesn't cause any more disruptions?

Read on to find out...

To dismiss or not dismiss: That's the big debate surrounding an employee who's absconded
 

The short answer to this question is a big 'NO'.
 
You can't dismiss your employee the minute you think he's absconded.
 
I know you're thinking surely if an employee doesn't show up for work for a long time, he effectively terminates his employment contract.
 
Wrong!
 
In the case of SABC v CCMA & Others (2002) 23 ILJ 1549 (LAC) and SACWU V Dyasi (2001) 7 BLLR 731 (LAC), it shows you must hold a disciplinary hearing before you dismiss an employee who's absconded.
 
This makes your life very difficult because, before you even get to the hearing, you must take reasonable steps to find your employee and discover his reasons for not coming to work. This process can be long and complicated.
 
Check out AWOL! Your guide to dealing with employees who abscond to discover the legal steps you need to take.
 
Only after this, can you hold a disciplinary hearing. But before you do, you must notify your employee of the hearing and tell him it will happen even if he doesn't attend.
 
It's crucial that you deal with abscondment correctly. If you don't, you'll face this consequence…

 
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What can you do when you think your employee's absconded

Your employee hasn't shown up for work all week. And you have no idea if he's ever coming back to work!

You've tried getting hold of him to no avail.

What can you do when you think your employee has absconded?

You have to follow the right process before you dismiss him

Click here to find out how to deal abscondment legally…

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You'll pay a heavy price if you don't deal with abscondment correctly
 
If, for example, you dismiss your employee right away, he could challenge the fairness of his dismissal at the CCMA or Labour Court.
 
If he wins, you may have to take him back or pay him up to 12 months' remuneration.
 
Note: Always keep records of all your efforts to find your employee. They will come in handy if you dismiss him for absconsion and he challenges you later on. You'll have proof you did everything by the book.
 
Here's the bottom line: You can't dismiss an employee who's absconded right away. Conduct a disciplinary hearing first or you'll land in trouble with labour law.
 
PS: For more information on how to deal with absconsion, check out AWOL! Your guide to dealing with employees who abscond to discover the legal steps you need to take.

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