AWOL Employee - what should you do? - uneartHReality

A common query is where employees haven’t shown up for work and haven’t let you know why.  This is known as AWOL (absent without leave).  What should you do if this does happen?

Consider what has happened and attempt contact with the employee.

Did they ask for the day off and was this refused? Do they have any health issues? Do they have any personal issues that you are aware of? Has this happened before or is it totally out of character? What is your policy on phoning in?

You need to proactively try and make contact with the employee as soon as possible.  Don’t delay this until the next day or week as you need to demonstrate you have tried to make reasonable contact.   Also, delaying it doesn’t exactly make it look like they were needed at work.  Try ringing them, if you can’t reach them then leave a message asking them to call you.  You could also consider contacting their next of kin depending on what you think the circumstances may be.  Be fair and reasonable in your approach, there may be a reasonable explanation.  Keep a log of your attempted contact.

If you have exhausted all avenues to try and make contact, you could try writing to them to explain they need to let you know what has happened.  In this letter you may want to point out that at present they are on unauthorised absence, and this could lead to disciplinary action.  Also, show your concern.  Ask them to get in contact with you as soon as possible and provide a deadline for them to respond by.

If there is no response.

If you still receive no response, then you will need to follow a process to terminate their employment.  The process you will follow may depend on their length of service and whether there are any discrimination risks.  If they have over 2 years’ service, you will need to follow a full disciplinary process and invite them to a meeting with notice, with the right to be accompanied and informing them of the allegations and what the outcome could possibly be.  If they don’t turn up give them one more chance.  Then make a decision and allow an appeal.  Do not just assume they have resigned as they have not confirmed this and if therefore, it is best to terminate their employment by dismissal.  You will need to ensure you have been reasonable in your approach.

If they respond.

If they do respond to your contact, then you will need to make a decision based on the circumstances.  If they have a valid reason, you may decide that no further action is needed, but they should be made aware of what your reporting rules are, and that action may be taken in future if the same thing happens again.  If you do not feel their response is reasonable then you may feel that inviting them to a disciplinary hearing is appropriate.  Again, ensure you give them notice, with the right to be accompanied and inform them of the allegations and what the outcome could possibly be.  Hold the meeting and once a decision has been made, communicate this in writing with the right to appeal.  Dismissal could be a possibility depending on the circumstances and length of absence.

What should you ensure you do?
  • Make a note of all your attempted contacts
  • Consider the impact of their absence on your business
  • Be fair and reasonable
  • Follow your policies and processes
  • Seek advice if you need to