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Why you can't just assume your employee has resigned if he doesn't come to work for a couple of days without contacting you

by , 29 June 2015
Your employee Robert has always been a hard-working, reliable guy.

But today is his fifth day absent - and you haven't heard from him at all. He just hasn't pitched for work for five days now (and counting).

As much as this may seem like resignation to you (because you can't think of any good reason why he'd be absent for so long and not contact you), you can't just assume that it is. Here's why.

Resignations must be in writing

Firstly, until such time as Robert submits a letter to you stating that he's resigned, he technically hasn't. As far as the law goes, all resignations have to be in writing.
 
Which brings me to my next point…
 

It's your job to try and get hold of the employee

Imagine if you choose to assume that Robert has resigned without receiving a letter stating so, and then in three weeks' time he arrives back at work?
 
It's your duty to try and contact Robert to find out what's going on. Don't wait for him to contact you. 

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Warning: 1 out of 3 dismissals are deemed as 'unfair' by the CCMA!
 
Chairing a disciplinary hearing isn't easy. With all the disciplinary codes and procedures you have to remember...
 
The roles and rules you need to adhere to...
 
The different questions you need to ask...
 
The different types of evidence that can legally be presented...
 
There are dozens of things you need to keep in mind to give each employee a fair hearing.
 
But what if I told you that chairing a hearing that follows the right disciplinary process is as easy as five simple steps?
 
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Your best bet is to notify Robert by letter (or any other reasonable method) that he has to attend a disciplinary hearing for missing work and not contacting you. If he doesn't, then you can dismiss him in his absence.
 
But if he does return to work…
 

Allow an appeal hearing and apply a fair sanction upon his return

If Robert does return to work, it's important that you allow an appeal hearing and apply a fair sanction.
 
Perhaps he has a valid reason for missing work and not contacting you. For example, perhaps he was in a coma or stuck in a foreign prison. Don't jump the gun – hear him out first.
 

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