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Know these 3 abscondment cases BEFORE dismissing and avoid an unfair dismissal

by , 04 February 2016
So, one of your employees hasn't come to work for a week. She hasn't contacted you, and you can't even get hold of her.

All in all, you have no idea what's happening with her, and are uncertain if she'll even come back to work.

What do you do now?

Well, before taking any hasty actions, take note of what happened, in the following 3 cases, with regard to abscondment, and see what you can learn in dealing it.

Case#1: Establish your employee's whereabouts

In order to prove your employee's absconded from work, you must establish a crystal-clear intention of the employee to abandon her current employment.

In Mofokeng v KSB Pumps (2003) 12 BALR 1342 (MEIBC) (Metal Engineering Industries Bargaining Council)), the arbitrator held that the dismissal of an incarcerated employee, for abscondment, was unfair as the employer could've established his whereabouts.
***Must have***

What can you do when you think your employee's gone AWOL?

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…  

Case#2: Don't simply demote and employee and then dismiss her for not reporting for her new position

In Mhlambi v CCMA & Others (2006) 27 ILJ 814 (LC), the employee had been demoted, which led to a drop in her status and salary.

When she refused to show up for her lower position, she was dismissed for abscondment.

But the Labour Court decided that the dismissal was unfair as it could've amounted to constructive dismissal.

Case#3: Employees have the right to be heard

You must give a deserting employee a fair chance to explain and possibly persuade you that their absence was for good reason.

In Moganedi v Sanpark Kwikspar (2003) 9 BALR 104 (CCMA), it was held that the dismissal of an employee, who was allegedly abducted, was unfair as the employer had made no attempt to try and establish the reason for the employee's absence.
*Those were 3 interesting cases which can help shed some light on the issue of absondment.

Remember to open yourself up to the countless possibilities behind an employee's absence before dismissing After all, your hasty actions could see a case of unfair dismissal laid against you.

To learn more on abscondment, page over to chapter A02: Abscondment/Desertion in the Practical Guide to Human Resources Management If you don't have this vital resource yet, then click here now.

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