Managing Absence Without Leave

Reasons for Absence

From time to time you may find yourself having to deal with an employee who is absent from work without providing a legitimate reason. It could be that they haven’t reported for work and have made no attempt to contact you, or they may have stopped providing medical certificates during a period of sickness absence.

Whatever the circumstances it’s a problem that needs to be addressed.

Main Considerations

So, what are the main points to consider?

  • Never assume the person has resigned. Without a written resignation or a formal dismissal, they remain your employee
  • Do all you can to make contact with them. Use telephone, email or text, or failing that consider contacting their next of kin or calling at their home
  • Record all attempts to make contact in writing
  • Make it clear to the employee in writing that they are considered to be absent without leave and that this may result in stopping their pay, or ultimately in disciplinary action

Next Steps

Initial attempts to make contact will more often than not resolve the matter, but in some cases, you may need to take disciplinary action. Being absent without leave isn’t considered to be ‘gross misconduct’ so is unlikely to result in dismissal in the first instance, but many factors play a part in this decision such as whether they engage with your attempts to contact them, their previous history of absences (both with and without permission), their length of service, and how you have dealt with similar cases in the past.

The main thing in this situation is to balance concern for the welfare of the individual with enforcing expectations of them to follow school processes and fulfil their employment contract.

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