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What to do when an employee takes leave after you decline his request

by , 30 June 2015
On Monday afternoon, your employee Matthew came to you with a leave form requesting to take leave on Tuesday to take his mother to the doctor.

You explained to him he can't take leave on Tuesday because he has work that he needs to finish by Tuesday afternoon for a client.

Matthew didn't say anything in response. He just grabbed the leave form, turned around and walked away.

Later that afternoon, you went to check up on his work progress and he was still nowhere near finished with the work that was due for a client on Tuesday afternoon. By the time everybody went home, it still wasn't complete.

On Tuesday morning, Matthew didn't show up for work. He didn't bother to call you to let you know that he wouldn't be in either. As a result, you had to ask another employee to do his work that was due that afternoon for him. What are you now to do with Matthew? Here's what...

Decide how serious the employee's offence was

Matthew has committed gross insubordination. Firstly, you'll need to decide how serious his offence was under the circumstances of his reason for needing to take leave on Tuesday in the first place. 

Find out if it was necessary for the employee to take leave

It's important to consider both sides of the story here. On one hand, decide whether it was necessary for Matthew to take the day off. Did he really need to take his mother to hospital? Could no one else have taken her? And was it necessary for him to take the whole day off? Find out from him.
Secondly, consider whether it was fair for Matthew to have requested leave at the last minute. Why couldn't he have asked you last week? You must decide whether or not his reasoning is fair.
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Think about what the employee could've done to better the situation

Because Matthew took the day off even after you declining his request, it led disruptions in your workplace with you having to shuffle his workload onto another employee who had work of her own to do.
Ask yourself what Matthew could've done to better the sticky situation he created without giving you a heads up. For example, he could've made the effort to work afterhours to get his work completed to he could proceed on leave. 

Discipline the employee accordingly

If you feel it was reasonable for Matthew to have taken the day off even after having his leave request declined, simply ask him to not just take the day off without informing you again. Also, explain to him why it's unacceptable for a repeat of this scenario to happen (workplace disruptions, last minute stress with getting work done, etc.).
If you feel that what Matthew did was unreasonable, you may discipline this act of gross insubordination in line with your disciplinary policy.

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