Employers often make the mistake of thinking an employee has abandoned their job simply because they did not turn up for work.

The employer then assumes they can dismiss the employee.  However, employers need to establish whether the employee has any intention of returning to work and needs to make every effort to contact the employee before any decision is made on ending the employment. 

If an employee intends on coming back to work, any unexplained/unapproved absence should be treated as a disciplinary matter, not abandonment, and an investigation should be commenced on their return.  The investigation should give the employee an opportunity to explain their absence before any conclusion is made.

Before treating the position as being abandoned, the employer must make every effort to contact the employee and to determine the status of the employment relationship and whether the employee intends on returning.  Employers will need to try to:

  • Phone the employee
  • Phone friends or relatives of the employee
  • Write to the employee and preferably have the letter hand delivered by management or couriered
  • Email the employee

Employers will need to prove that they made every reasonable effort to communicate with their employee during the abandonment period.


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