Dismissing an employee for absenteeism

Nov 2, 2016

While employees are entitled to a certain amount of sick leave within a given period, the fact of the matter is that it is often abused. This is bad as it disrupts the business’s overall efficiency when it really should not.
So if it is really believed that a particular employee is abusing the system, the employer may wish to dismiss him. However, before taking any action, there are 2 points the employer needs to know.
In order to justify a dismissal, based on absenteeism, the employer needs to prove that the absences were of an unreasonable duration or that they were frequent enough to disrupt work within the company.
Just like with any dismissal, the employer are required to follow a fair procedure before dismissing an employee for absenteeism.
In order to get an idea of the fairness of the dismissal, the Court will usually look into the following 3 factors:
1. The reason for the employee’s absence;
2. The employee’s employment history; and
3. How the employer has dealt with absenteeism in the past.
With reference to the third point, the key is consistency. If the employer wishes to change a past behavioural pattern, it must ensure that everyone else knows.
For example, if the employer has taken absenteeism lightly in the past, but now wish to put its foot down, it must first communicate its new stance to all of employees before applying it.


Wallace Albertyn

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

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