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Two question every employer must ask when dealing with workplace desertion

by , 12 May 2016
An employee of yours has been absent from work, without authorisation, for a long time now, and has made no attempt to contact you. This will naturally lead you to assume that she's deserted your company, after which you'll more than likely wish to dismiss her.

But don't rush the gun here!

Before you actually go ahead and dismiss an employee for desertion, it's highly recommended that you ask yourself the following two questions...

***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…  

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Question: Is it definitely desertion?

In order to know if what you're dealing with is definitely desertion, there are four general points to consider. They are that:

·         The employee's absence must be unauthorised;
·         The employee doesn't contact you with the reasons for her absence; and
·         The employee must have an intention to not return to work.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Proving this 'intention' can be very difficult because you can't get inside the mind of the employee. But there are ways to build evidence that supports this intention. For example:

·         Her desk could be empty; or
·         she stopped coming to work just after she was paid her wages or bonus; etc.

TIP: In order to define 'intention', you can add a clause in your employment contracts that states any unauthorised absence for a particular period of time without reasons, and proof of those reasons, will be seen as desertion and dealt with accordingly, as laid out in your disciplinary code.

Question#2: Have you tried to make contact with her?

As the employer, you're required to make a reasonable effort to get in contact with the employee, in order to find out where she is and why she's not at work.

TIP: Send a letter to her physical address (the one you have on record). In it, you must advise her to return to work or face dismissal.

CAUTION: If the employee does return to work at a later stage, you'll have to give her a chance to explain herself, after which you must seriously consider her reasons for her absence before taking action.
 
*To learn more, page over to Chapter D 18: Desertion in your Labour Law for Managers handbook, or click here (if you don't already have it) to order a copy today. 

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