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How to deal with abandonment of employment in your workplace…

Bueller? Bueller? Bueller? Bueller? Have you ever had a Ferris Bueller moment in your workplace? Ahh most of us might recall that famous scene from the 1986 film titled, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off when his Economics teacher undertakes a class role call… and Bueller is nowhere in sight. So where is your Bueller? bueller at home It might be your employee won last nights lotto draw or got abducted by aliens….yeah right! Well, maybe winning the lotto, maybe.

However, when an employee is absent from work without notice and without a satisfactory reason or authorisation, it could be abandonment of employment.

Here’s how to know… The first is an obvious one, give them a call or their next of kin. Try and find out where they are, why they haven’t called and if they are actually okay.

It might come to light the employee was dealing with a personal matter such as their partner being in labour or hospitalisation following a serious car accident. In these cases, we would all pretty much agree, these are satisfactory explanations for why the employee hadn’t contacted their manager.

However, if you’re still calling out “Bueller? Bueller?”, then your next bet should be a formalised one. Send a letter informing the employee of the situation and request them to make contact within a certain time frame, who to contact and by when, as well as advising the employee that failure to respond may be interpreted as their abandonment of employment.

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A helpful hint for all correspondence in this case: Send the letter via registered post which has its own tracking system so you will know the letter has been received by the employee. Should there be no contact from the employee, then a final letter is sent informing them that they have abandoned employment and will receive their termination entitlements in accordance with their relevant industrial agreement or award and or employment contract.

BUT, in cases where the employee has been absent on account of suspected or known personal illness or injury, and they haven’t made contact and sent through a medical certificate covering the absence or advised of such (as yet), there are other legalities that must be considered before abandonment of employment is determined.

These legalities relate to requirements within the Fair Work Act, anti-discrimination laws and workplace safety laws. Also there are a few Awards and Enterprise Agreements that contain specific criteria of what is deemed abandonment of employment. Checking to ensure compliance with these requirements before addressing these matters is important.

If you need help with an employee issue where you think they have abandoned their employment or even a long term illness give us a call we would be happy to help, or even check out our free abandonment of employment letter template!

This blog was written by our resident Senior HR Guru Angela Olanda.

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