Managing absence without leave (AWOL)

When an employee is repeatedly absent from work for short periods of time without informing their employer, it is called ‘absent without leave’ (AWOL). This LegalFlow will guide you, as an employer, through an initial assessment surrounding the situation and walk you through the appropriate legal steps which you will need to take in dealing with AWOL whilst ensuring that you follow fair procedures.

It is very important to distinguish between absenteeism without authorisation or permission and desertion. Absenteeism is when an employee does not show up for work at the required time and has failed to notify the employer of his reason for absence and his expected date of return. This absence tends to be short in duration. Desertion or absconding entails the employee's intention to no longer return to work.

Applying incapacity procedures

Where an employee’s poor work performance is not their fault, for example, if they are constantly absent due to illness, then incapacity procedures should be used to deal with the employee. The process to follow is different to a disciplinary enquiry for misconduct. This LegalFlow will guide you through formal incapacity procedures ensuring you are following fair procedures.

Holding a disciplinary inquiry

In cases involving more serious misconduct, or when the behaviour has been consistent, an employer will need to hold a formal disciplinary enquiry. If you don’t follow correct procedures, the sanction, including dismissal of an employee, could be regarded as unfair. This LegalFlow will guide you through the formal disciplinary enquiry ensuring fair procedures are followed.