Zayn has been employed for 5 years and during this time he has been a trustworthy and loyal employee. He is very rarely absent and is well regarded amongst colleagues and senior management.

The company is very concerned about Zayn as he has not been in work for the last two weeks and he has not been in contact with work to advise why he is currently absent, therefore absent without leave (AWOL).

You have heard a rumour from a colleague that he has set up his own business in competition with you.

Under an employment contract an employer has specific responsibilities however so do employees, these are: to attend work when fit to do so, to comply with the rules of the sickness absence scheme including notification of absence, to communicate/meet with management during extended periods of absence and to acknowledge a joint responsibility for their level of attendance.

So, as an Employer what can you do when an Employee is AWOL?

Unauthorised absence can be deemed fair grounds for dismissal, but it pays to know your rights and responsibilities as an employer to avoid employment tribunal claims.

Therefore you must follow an AWOL Process. You must make contact with the employee to discuss their current absence. If you are unable to contact the employee, send AWOL letter 1, stating your concern for them and advising them to contact you by a certain date.

If you receive no response to the first letter issue AWOL letter 2, referring them to AWOL letter 1 and remind them of their responsibilities under their employment contract and again request them to contact you by a certain date.

If they continue to fail to contact you, forward AWOL letter 3 referring to your two previous letters and stating that you have yet to hear from them. Further to this, the company has decided to put the following allegations before a disciplinary panel (the allegations should include; being absent from school without authorisation since (date) and a failure to follow the attendance policy).

You must advise them if they fail to attend the hearing then the hearing may go ahead in their absence and a potential outcome may be any level of warning (first, written or final) or dismissal. If the allegations, individually or collectively, are proven, they may be deemed to be gross misconduct for which the employee may be dismissed.

Once the hearing has taken place, either with or without the employee, you must write to the employee giving the decision and outlining their right of appeal.

If you need any help with managing absences or managing AWOL cases please get in touch on 01924 907319.

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