Do you know how to deal with deserters effectively?

by , 30 September 2013
Absenteeism could be one of the biggest costs to your business. That's why it's crucial you address it appropriately. Read on to discover how to deal with deserters in your workplace.

According to the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service, employee absenteeism is probably one of your biggest headaches because it often results in:

  • Disruption of your business operations
  • Resentment amongst other workers who have to do the absentee's work
  • Your production falling behind
  • Your customers becoming disgruntled
  • Your need to pay replacement labour
  • Extra overtime costs for your business
  • Financial losses

One form of absenteeism is desertion.

But what exactly is desertion and how do you deal with it?

Here's how to deal with deserters in your workplace

The Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service explains that desertion is when an employee doesn't come to the office:

  • Without leave and without the intention of returning to work


  • Without informing the employer of the reason for the absence and without the intention of returning to work.

This differs from ordinary absenteeism; your employee intends to return to work.

The problem with desertion is you don't always know whether your employee plans to return to work. That's why you must implement a desertion procedure designed to protect your company.

The procedure needs to ensure you do everything, within reason, to establish whether your employee intends to return to work.

This means you must conduct a thorough investigation into your employee's whereabouts and reasons for absence. The investigation should consist of:

  • Attempts to contact him telephonically (keep notes of all attempts)
  • Letters to your employee (retain proof of attempts)
  • Evidence from your employee's colleagues, and
  • The examination of any other evidence that may be available such as messages from his friends or family regarding his movements

If your enquiry determines:

  • Your employee definitely doesn't intend to return, hold a disciplinary hearing where he could be dismissed if no acceptable reason for the absence is given. But if your employee returns to work, be prepared to reopen the hearing to determine the circumstances of his absence and whether reinstatement is merited.
  • Your employee intends to return, you need to prepare for a disciplinary hearing for absenteeism.
  • There's no way of ascertaining his intentions, you can pay him off but be prepared to reopen the enquiry if he returns. If the reopened enquiry establishes his absence was unjustified (as you have done everything to try to determine his intentions) you can confirm the termination of his employment. This enquiry must follow the legal disciplinary procedures. If you find his absence wasn't his fault, you must take him back.

Basically, to deal with deserters effectively, you must:

  • First identify the reason for the employee's absence.
  • Then decide on the appropriate action depending on the identified cause.
  • Have a well communicated absenteeism policy so employees are deterred from breaking your attendance rules.
  • Resort to the appropriate disciplinary procedure if the absenteeism continues.

Remember, absenteeism is costly. So make sure you deal with deserters effectively.

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