Job abandonment is a situation in which an employee stops showing up for work without giving an employer any notice. This is an annoying problem that has the potential to temporarily cripple a workplace.

Assuming that an employee has abandoned the job can garner legal consequences if it actually turns out that the employee had a legitimate reason for not showing up or contacting the workplace, however. While employers must take action to keep the business up and running, it’s important to take the right steps in regards to job abandonment to avoid potential legal consequences such as wrongful termination lawsuits.

Establish Clear Policies

Having a policy in place dictating that termination is automatic after a certain number of no call/no shows can help to protect employers. If this policy is posted and communicated to employees from the start, it can act as documentation that will work in the employer’s favor if legal action is taken by the employee after the fact.

Attempt to Contact the Employee

While it’s not always legally necessary to attempt to contact an employee before beginning the termination process, it’s courteous and can help to avoid legal snafus if there was a genuine misunderstanding. If the employee won’t respond using typical communication avenues like telephone or email, a letter can be sent notifying the employee of the intention to terminate if a valid reason isn’t given for the prolonged absence.

Wait to Take Action

Waiting just a short period of time like a week and a half to two weeks after the first no call/no show to terminate may give an employee time to reach out if there was a medical event or other emergency. It can be tempting to begin the termination process quickly to tie up loose ends, but this can become problematic if the employee does submit acceptable documentation explaining the absence.

Pay as Required

Employers are required to pay employees for all time worked according to whatever agreement was in place. The final paycheck should be cut as usual, although it may be necessary to mail the check if the employee usually picks it up by hand. If direct deposit is typically used, some employers prefer to continue to use it for the final paycheck, but others prefer to write a paper check.

Maintain Consistency

No matter what policy is in place for job abandonment, it’s important that consistency be maintained. If an employer terminates one employee for three no call/no shows and lets a different employee continue to work after five no call/no shows, the terminated employee may be able to sue for discrimination or wrongful termination. Maintaining good records and treating all employees the same when it comes to attendance and discipline is the best course of action.

Dealing with job abandonment issues isn’t easy, but taking the right steps can offer protection in the case of legal matters. Having set policies in place and maintaining consistency may also help to establish the workplace as fair, which can improve employee contentment and company culture.

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