I think my Employee has abandoned their employment – What do I do?
So your employee walked off the job or failed to show up for work without letting you know. What now?
Whilst it would be reasonable to assume that your employee no longer wishes to be employed, you should proceed with caution.
Why? Because the Fair Work Act does not deal with abandonment of employment and only a very few of the Modern Awards actually contain a clause on the abandonment of employment.
To protect your business, make sure your employment contracts contain a clause dealing with this issue. If this clause is consistent with the wording within the modern awards that deal with this issue, it would be difficult to challenge.
However, if you are not covered by any of these awards and your agreements do not contain a clause concerning abandonment of employment, it’s recommended that you follow the procedure below.
Step by step process
Firstly, attempt to contact the employee (phone, email, next of kin etc). Secondly, if no contact has been made, you should send a letter by registered mail to the employee’s current address. The letter should ask for an explanation and state that you will assume they have abandoned their employment if they do not respond within a specified timeframe. If the employee does not respond to the letter and continues to be absent for 14 days, it would be reasonable safe to assume that your employee has abandoned their employment without notice.
However, it is possible that the employee may return to work at a later date with a reasonable explanation (eg acute illness or a family emergency) which would make the matter less straight forward. Remembering that is unlawful to dismiss an employee for temporary absence from work due to illness or injury. These cases are often surrounded by controversy and you should seek help from an HR professional or Lawyer.
If you require information on this important area of management, please contact us at Signature Staff.
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Author: Mats Eriksson