Employee turns up for work after being dismissed for abscondment / desertion
Firstly, we need to remind readers that about a month ago we posted an article on the difference between abscondment and desertion. Please re-visit the article to understand the difference between the two concepts as each one needs to be managed or dealt with differently.
So, what happens when an employee goes on annual leave, but does not come back on the date he said he would?
What if weeks have gone by without the employer hearing anything from the employee? Employers need to take the right steps to make sure that the employee has actually absconded. The correct procedure needs to be followed in order to terminate the contract of employment.
However, what happens when the employee, a few days after terminating the contract, arrives at work and wants to continue with his duties? What does the employer do now?
The following needs to be done if an absconding employee shows up for work after his contract of employment has been terminated:
Give the employee a chance to explain his absence. Fairness is key to labour matters and this also applies when dealing with an absconding employee. It is important that the employee is granted a fair disciplinary hearing when he comes back. If not, the employee could claim unfair dismissal with the consequent possible cost to the employer in the form of financial compensation of up to 12 months’ remuneration.
Therefore, when an employee rocks up for work, an appeal hearing needs to be held in order to ensure a fair procedure, i.e. if the disciplinary procedure makes provision for an appeal process. Or alternatively, if there is no appeal process, send the employee home and serve him with a notice of disciplinary hearing, either immediately or within a day or two. It needs to be highlighted that an employee’s reasons for the absence need to be considered before a decision is made to uphold the dismissal or allow the employee to continue work.