People change jobs for a variety of reasons, from not getting on with the boss to career advancement. Usually notice is given by the employee and they will work with their employer to train a replacement. But how should an employer react when an employee abandons their position?
Abandonment of employment arises where an employee:
- is absent from work
- without a reasonable excuse
- for an unreasonable period of time
- without having advised their employer why
The employee is, by their actions (or lack thereof), demonstrating an intention to no longer be bound by the terms of their contract of employment.
Abandonment of employment is a repudiation of the employment contract, however the contract isn’t terminated until the abandonment is accepted by the employer.
If you find your employee has gone “absent without leave”, employers should:
- attempt to contact the employee (by phone, email or through work colleagues)
- if contact cannot be made verbally, a letter should be sent to the employee’s home address by registered mail requesting the employee contact the employer as soon as possible
- if the employee does not attempt to contact your office, or is unable to provide a satisfactory “excuse”, you must assume that the employee has abandoned their employment. The abandonment will be taken from the date the employee last attended work.
It is important for employers to note that:
- an absence for a day or two cannot be considered abandonment (most Modern Awards provide that an absence of more than 3 days without consent is required)
- if an employee’s leave application is unreasonably withheld, and the employee proceeds to take leave, abandonment does not apply
If you are an employer and you require assistance in determining whether you can terminate an employee for abandonment of their role, contact the employment Law team at Everingham Solomons where Helping You is Our Business.