What happens if an employee does not come back to work after a holiday or weekend?

Jan 10, 2018

If an employee does not come back to work after a holiday or weekend, he cannot just be dismissed. There are legal and fair ways that must be followed to notify him of his absconsion and explain to him the consequences of his actions before action is taken.
Here are the steps that must be taken to notify an employee what will happen if he does not come back to work.
Firstly, an attempt should be made to contact him telephonically. If this is not possible, an e-mail, a letter, a SMS or a telegram can also be send to him.
Regardless of the means of communicaiton, this correspondence must state that he is required to return to work on a specified date when he will be given a chance to explain his absence.
What to include in the letter of abscondment
Inform the employe in the letter that it will be accepted if he does not intend on returning to work, if he fails to return to work on that day, and that his services will be terminated with immediate effect.
If he does return, his explanation for his absence need to be considered, but he may still be dismissed for unauthorised absence from work. If, on the other hand, he does not report for duty on the day that was  specified in the correspondence, his services can be terminated with immediate effect.
However, a hearing must be held and consider his explanation before deciding on an appropriate sanction.
At this point, another letter should be send by hand and/or via registered post to the employee, letting him know that he has been dismissed for absconsion with immediate effect.
Bear in mind that the employee MUST be paid what is owed to him. 
Keep in mind that “no work, no pay” applies to the period of unauthorised absence so the employee does not have to be remunerated for the time he was not at work.
However, when the employee’s services are terminated for abscondment, all outstanding leave pay and other statutory payments (such as overtime pay) owed to him, must be paid.
Allow the employee the possibility to explain what happened. Remember, if the employee returns to work at some stage after his service has been terminated, he must be given an opportunity to explain the reason he was absent!
Note:  The employee’s reasons should be considered before a decision is made to uphold his abscondment dismissal or allow him to continue working.

Disclaimer: LabourMan exclusively provides services to employers.

The content does not constitute legal advice, are not intended to be a substitute for legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Kindly contact us on info@labourman.co.za or 021 556 1075 to speak to one of our consultants.


Wallace Albertyn

Wallace Albertyn is a Senior Associate and Legal Advisor at LabourMan Consultants.

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